In Australia, 8.6% of all births are premature, and this figure has relativelyincreased by 10% in the past decade. A range of biological, psychological, and socialfactors have previously been identified as predictors of preterm birth using cross sectionaldata; however, this lacks ascertainment of a cause-and-effect relationship.This study harnessed the power of longitudinal cohort data by investigating pretermbirth among women prospectively followed for 19 years using a comprehensiveframework that examines biological, psychological, and social factors concurrently.
Data from 5,292 women (11,256 newborns) who reported singleton birthsbetween 1996 and 2015 in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health wereincluded.
The prevalence of preterm birth was 8.5% for first-births and 5.9% for allbirths.The recurrent preterm birth rate was 9.5% . Risk factors for first preterm birthswere chronic hypertension (OR 2.34; 95% CI: 1.67-3.27), gestational hypertension (OR2.87; 95% CI: 2.22-3.72), gestational diabetes (OR 1.66; 95% CI: 1.14-2.41),menarche before 12 years (OR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.02-1.82) and history of miscarriage(OR 1.35; 95% CI: 1.01-1.79). Risk factors for all preterm births were a history ofpreterm birth (OR 2.33; 95% CI: 1.46-3.70), menarche before 12 years (OR 1.33; 95%CI: 1.00-1.77), not being partnered (OR 1.31; 95% CI: 1.02-1.69), chronic hypertension(OR 2.02; 95% CI: 1.45-2.82), gestational hypertension (OR 3.22; 95% CI: 2.43-4.25),gestational diabetes (OR 1.67; 95% CI: 1.16-2.41), and asthma (OR 1.40; 95% CI:1.14-1.72). Premature birth was less likely for second or later births (OR 0.44; 95% CI:0.36-0.55) compared to first births. Premature birth was also less likely for women whocompleted a university degree compared to women with a high school certificate (OR0.73; 95% CI: 0.57-0.94).
Further development of multi-sectoral policies for chronic diseaseprevention and reducing social inequalities is required to prevent preterm birth inAustralia.

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier Ltd.