Prevalence and predictors of spontaneous preterm births in Nepal: findings from a prospective, population-based pregnancy cohort in rural Nepal-a secondary data analysis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMJ open








epidemiology; obstetrics; public health


OBJECTIVE: Preterm birth can have short-term and long-term complications for a child. Socioeconomic factors and pregnancy-related morbidities may be important to predict and prevent preterm births in low-resource settings. The objective of our study was to find prevalence and predictors of spontaneous preterm birth in rural Nepal. DESIGN: This is a secondary observational analysis of trial data (registration number NCT01177111). SETTING: Rural Sarlahi district, Nepal. PARTICIPANTS: 40 119 pregnant women enrolled from 9 September 2010 to 16 January 2017. OUTCOME MEASURES: The outcome variable is spontaneous preterm birth. Generalized Estimating Equations Poisson regression with robust variance was fitted to present effect estimates as risk ratios. RESULT: The prevalence of spontaneous preterm birth was 14.5% (0.5% non-spontaneous). Characteristics not varying in pregnancy associated with increased risk of preterm birth were maternal age less than 18 years (adjusted risk ratio=1.13, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.26); being Muslim (1.53, 1.16 to 2.01); first pregnancy (1.15, 1.04 to 1.28); multiple births (4.91, 4.20 to 5.75) and male child (1.10, 1.02 to 1.17). Those associated with decreased risk were maternal education >5 years (0.81, 0.73 to 0.90); maternal height ≥150 cm (0.89, 0.81 to 0.98) and being from wealthier families (0.83, 0.74 to 0.93). Pregnancy-related morbidities associated with increased risk of preterm birth were vaginal bleeding (1.53, 1.08 to 2.18); swelling (1.37, 1.17 to 1.60); high systolic blood pressure (BP) (1.47, 1.08 to 2.01) and high diastolic BP (1.41, 1.17 to 1.70) in the third trimester. Those associated with decreased risk were respiratory problem in the third trimester (0.86, 0.79 to 0.94); having poor appetite, nausea and vomiting in the second trimester (0.86, 0.80 to 0.92) and third trimester (0.86, 0.79 to 0.94); and higher weight gain from second to third trimester (0.89, 0.87 to 0.90). CONCLUSION: The prevalence of preterm birth is high in rural Nepal. Interventions that increase maternal education may play a role. Monitoring morbidities during antenatal care to intervene to reduce them through an effective health system may help reduce preterm birth.


Global Health