STOPPIT 2 is the Study for the Prevention of Preterm labour In Twins 2, which was carried out by Professor Jane Norman at Edinburgh University.

Women with a twin pregnancy are at high risk of preterm labour which contributes to higher levels of neonatal death and complications after birth in twins, so it’s important to look at ways we can prevent preterm birth.

The STOPPIT-2 study was designed to help researchers understand whether the Arabin cervical pessary could prevent preterm birth in women with a twin pregnancy and a short cervix. (A pessary is a small ring-shaped device which is inserted around the cervix).

7,000 women with a twin pregnancy were asked if they would have an ultrasound scan to measure the length of their cervix (neck of the womb) and 2,228 women agreed. Women who had the scan and then found to have short cervical length measurement (less or equal to 35mm) were eligible to join the treatment phase of the study. Of these 503 women, 250 received the Arabin pessary and 253 standard treatment.

Even though the study showed the pessary did not reduce the risk of preterm birth or reduce risk of complications for the baby, it helps researchers know where to focus their efforts now.

Cervical length scanning test does not rule out the risk of a preterm birth but if a very short cervical length (less than 20mm) is identified the measurement maybe useful for predicting an increased preterm birth risk.

Interestingly, women who took part reported better outcomes for their babies and themselves than women with similar pregnancies who did not participate.  It is not clear why this is the case although other studies have noted extra one-to-one care might explain this.

These findings will help healthcare professionals plan how best to care for women who are pregnant with twins and who have a short cervix. Information obtained from participants in the study may help inform the future healthcare of other patients. 

STOPPIT-2 is just one of the studies into preterm birth which Twins Trust has supported. You can read more about the STOPPIT-2 study findings here.