Spontaneous Preterm Birth: a Fetal-Maternal Metabolic Imbalance

Tayla Lanxner Battat, Offer Erez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preterm delivery is a major global health problem associated with increased neonatal morbidity and mortality. To develop effective strategies to reduce preterm birth, it is important to address the causes of and risk factors for this condition. Maternal metabolism plays a crucial role in pregnancy outcomes, as it affects the availability of nutrients, energy, and other essential factors required for fetal development and growth. Several aspects of maternal metabolism can potentially contribute to the risk of preterm delivery. Severe energy deficiency as observed in women suffering from eating disorders can affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis resulting in amenorrhea and infertility, suggesting that maintaining a minimum maternal weight is essential to uphold a functional reproductive system, thus ensuring a successful pregnancy. Maternal undernutrition as observed in past famine and observations and animal studies may affect fetal growth and trigger an early activation of the parturition pathway leading to preterm delivery. A correlation exists between maternal size and gestation duration. Obesity is associated with a higher likelihood of medically indicated preterm birth. Low maternal body mass index and low gestational weight gain during pregnancy have been associated with preterm birth, potentially due to fetal-maternal metabolic imbalance; however, the exact mechanism remains to be determined, thus emphasizing the importance of appropriate weight management before and during pregnancy. Addressing metabolic-related risk factors for preterm delivery requires a comprehensive approach to reduce the burden of preterm delivery and improve neonatal outcomes. This review aims to explore various aspects of fetal-maternal metabolic imbalance that could potentially contribute to preterm birth. By doing so, we suggest a novel and comprehensive approach that sheds light on the intricate connection between fetal-maternal imbalance and the susceptibility to preterm birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalMaternal-Fetal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Gestational length
  • Maternal BMI
  • Obesity
  • Placental sensing
  • Premature birth
  • Preterm parturition
  • Undernutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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