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What is an incompetent cervix?

The cervix is the bottom most part of the uterus. The cervix has to thin out and dilate before a child can be born vaginally. For some women, the cervix is considered incompetent or weak. This can mean that the woman is at an increased risk of losing the baby as the baby grows and more pressure is placed on the cervix.

How is an incompetent cervix diagnosed?

There isn't usually a routine screening done for an incompetent cervix. It is possible to determine that a woman has a weakened cervix through ultrasound, but this is usually only done if there are factors present that would indicate the cervix might be incompetent. In fact, many women won't know they have this issue unless they have lost a baby during the second or third trimester.

What are some risk factors of an incompetent cervix?

Some of the risk factors that might lead to an incompetent cervix include exposure to diethylstilbestrol, a malformed cervix, a malformed uterus, a previous surgery done on the cervix, trauma to the cervix or damage done during a difficult birth. These are all indications that the woman should likely be screened for cervix complications.

How is an incompetent cervix treated?

Many women who have an incompetent cervix will have a cervical cerclage. This procedure, which involves sewing the cervix closed, is done primarily between weeks 14 and 16 of the pregnancy. The cerclage has to be removed prior to the woman going into labor, so this is usually done between weeks 36 and 38 of the pregnancy.

When there are indications that the cervix is incompetent and nothing is done, the woman might lose her baby. This may lead to claims for compensation.

Source: American Pregnancy Association, "Incompetent Cervix: Weakened Cervix," accessed Nov. 24, 2016

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