The type of thread used in a procedure to prevent preterm labor may influence odds for stillbirth and preterm birth, researchers report.
The procedure, called a cervical stitch, is performed on roughly 2 million women a year worldwide who are considered at high risk of miscarriage or premature birth. To delay labor, doctors place a stitch in the cervix to keep it closed.
READ: 5 Things Black Women Should Know About Preterm Birth
But researchers found the most commonly used suture — a braided thread — was associated with tripled odds of stillbirth compared to a single-strand suture. And risk of preterm birth was nearly doubled.
“We don’t have very good tools for determining who would and who would not benefit from that operation, and probably put cervical stitches in many women who don’t really need them, so it’s important that we first do no harm,” said researcher Dr. Phillip Bennett, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Imperial College London.
Bennett said about 80 percent of doctors who do the procedure use the braided, tape-like material. Just one in five uses a simple nylon thread that’s like a fishing line.
“We found that women who had the braided tape material had significantly poorer outcomes than the women who had the nylon,” he said.
These women were more likely to have harmful bacteria grow in the vagina, Bennett said. This was associated with inflammation and changes to the cervix.