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Premature rupture of membranes (PROM) is a rupture (breaking open) of the membranes (amniotic sac) before labor begins. If PROM occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy, it is called preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
PROM occurs in about 8 to 10 percent of all pregnancies. PPROM (before 37 weeks) accounts for one fourth to one third of all preterm births.
Rupture of the membranes near the end of pregnancy (term) may be caused by a natural weakening of the membranes or from the force of contractions. Before term, PPROM is often due to an infection in the uterus. Other factors that may be linked to PROM include the following:
PROM is a complicating factor in as many as one third of premature births. A significant risk of PPROM is that the baby is very likely to be born within a few days of the membrane rupture. Another major risk of PROM is development of a serious infection of the placental tissues called chorioamnionitis, which can be very dangerous for mother and baby. Other complications that may occur with PROM include placental abruption (early detachment of the placenta from the uterus), compression of the umbilical cord, cesarean birth, and postpartum (after delivery) infection.
The following are the most common symptoms of PROM. However, each woman may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
If you notice any symptoms of PROM, be sure to call your physician as soon as possible. The symptoms of PROM may resemble other medical conditions. Consult your physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, PROM may be diagnosed in several ways, including the following:
Specific treatment for PROM will be determined by your physician based on:
Treatment for premature rupture of membranes may include:
Unfortunately, there is no way to actively prevent PROM. However, this condition does have a strong link with cigarette smoking and mothers should stop smoking as soon as possible.