Deliver or wait with late preterm membrane rupture?

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While ACOG recommends delivery for all women with ruptured membranes after 34 weeks’ gestation, a new study finds expectant management may be the way to go.




In the absence of clinical indications for delivery, consider expectant management in women with premature rupture of membranes in late preterm stages (34 weeks to 36 weeks, 6 days).

Strength of recommendation

B: Based on one well-designed randomized controlled trial.1

Morris JM, Roberts CL, Bowen JR, et al; PPROMT Collaboration. Immediate delivery compared with expectant management after preterm pre-labour rupture of the membranes close to term (PPROMT trial): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2016;387:444-452.


A 26-year-old G2P1001 at 35 weeks, 2 days of gestation presents with leakage of clear fluid for the last 2 hours. There is obvious pooling in the vaginal vault, and rupture of membranes is confirmed with appropriate testing. Her cervix is closed, she is not in labor, and tests of fetal well-being are reassuring. She had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with her first child. How should you manage this situation?

Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM)—when rupture of membranes occurs before 37 weeks’ gestation—affects about 3% of all pregnancies in the United States, and is a major contributor to perinatal morbidity and mortality.2,3 PPROM management remains controversial, especially during the late preterm stage (ie, 34 weeks to 36 weeks, 6 days). Non-reassuring fetal status, clinical chorioamnionitis, cord prolapse, and significant placental abruption are clear indications for delivery. In the absence of those factors, delivery vs expectant management is determined by gestational age. Between 23 and 34 weeks’ gestation, when the fetus is at or close to viability, expectant management is recommended, provided there are no signs of infection or maternal or fetal compromise.4 This is because of the significant morbidity and mortality associated with births before 34 weeks’ gestation.4

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) currently recommends delivery for all women with rupture of membranes after 34 weeks’ gestation, while acknowledging that this recommendation is based on “limited and inconsistent scientific evidence.”5 The recommendation for delivery after 34 weeks is predicated on the belief that disability-free survival is high in late preterm infants. However, there is a growing body of evidence that shows negative short- and long-term effects for these children, including medical concerns, academic difficulties, and more frequent hospital admissions in early childhood.6,7

Copyright © 2016. The Family Physicians Inquiries Network. All rights reserved.

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