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Celine Dion Rumor Sparks Questions About Premature Birth

According to the Internet rumor mill, Celine Dion has been hospitalized in Miami due to an “insufficient cervix” or “incompetent cervix” (IC).  Apparently her twins dropped “too low” and she underwent a procedure known as “cervical cerclage” to prevent premature birth.

Hearing dramatic but vague celebrity health news can be anxiety-provoking. I have no idea what’s going on with Celine Dion– this could be pure rumor. But I can tell you a little bit about insufficient cervix and cerclage.

Insufficient cervix is when the cervix is weak and starts to efface and dilate prematurely. The exact number of women with IC is unknown, but it’s considered rare. It is believed, however, that 25% of all second trimester miscarriages are due to IC. Unfortunately, it’s usually after a second trimester miscarriage has occurred that IC is diagnosed. Factors that increase risk for insufficient cervix are: previous cervical trauma, uterine anomalies,  DES exposure and a previous second trimester miscarriage due to a weak cervix.

Cerclage is a procedure in which doctors sew the cervix closed until the baby has reached term– 37 weeks or more. Cerclage is most often performed between 12-16 weeks as a preventative measure for women diagnosed with IC.

Sometimes, possibly in Dion’s case, cerclage is done once changes to the cervix have already begun. This is called “emergent cerclage.”  It’s unclear what the success rates are for emergent cerclage– some put it at 40-60%. The success rates are higher when performed earlier in the pregnancy. There are risks to the procedure, though the benefits– which can be life saving– can outweigh them for women with an IC diagnosis. Here’s a dialog between women who have undergone emergent cerclage and bed rest.

If Dion did undergo cerclage, she would probably be asked to stay in the hospital overnight and then go on bed rest for some period of time. Again, I have no idea if this is true with regards to Dion. But I did get an email this morning from a friend asking about cerclage.  I hope this helps anyone else curious about the procedure.

Photo: A.D.A.M.

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