Introduction Preterm birth (PTB) is among the leading causes of perinatal and childhood morbidity and mortality. Therefore, accurate identification of pregnant women at high risk of PTB is key to enable obstetric healthcare professionals to apply interventions that improve perinatal and childhood outcomes. Serial transvaginal cervical length measurement is used to screen asymptomatic pregnant women with a history of PTB and identify those at high risk for a recurrent PTB. Cervical length measurement, fetal fibronectin test or a combination of both can be used to identify women at high risk of PTB presenting with symptoms of threatened PTB. The predictive capacity of these methods can be improved. Cervical softening is a precursor of cervical shortening, effacement and dilatation and could be a new marker to identify women a high risk of PTB. However, the predictive value of cervical softening to predict spontaneous PTB still needs to be determined. Methods and analysis This is a single-centre, prospective cohort study, conducted at the Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands. Cervical softening will be investigated with a non-invasive CE-marked device called the Pregnolia System. This device has been developed to evaluate consistency of the cervix based on tissue elasticity. Two different cohorts will be investigated. The first cohort includes women with a history of spontaneous PTB <34 weeks. These women undergo biweekly measurements between 14 and 24 weeks of gestation. The second cohort includes women with symptoms of threatened PTB. These women will receive the measurement once at presentation between 24 and 34 weeks of gestation. The primary outcome is spontaneous PTB before 34 weeks for women with a history of PTB and delivery within 7 days for women with threatened PTB. The minimum sample size required to analyse the primary outcome is 227 women in the cohort of women with a history of PTB and 163 women in the cohort of women with symptoms of threatened PTB. Once this number is achieved, the study will be continued to investigate secondary objectives. Ethics and dissemination The study is approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of Amsterdam UMC (METC2022.0226). All patients will give oral and written informed consent prior to study entry. Results will be disseminated via a peer-reviewed journal. Trial registration number NCT05477381.

Original languageEnglish
Article number071597
Pages (from-to)e071597
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023


  • Maternal medicine
  • Prenatal diagnosis

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