Women who undergo a common treatment of the cervix are not likely to have a premature baby later in life, scientists have said.
Contradictory to previous research, a study found that women who undergo loop excision - the most common treatment for removing pre-cancerous cells of the cervix - do not have an increased risk of having an early baby.
Changes to the cells of the cervix can be picked up through a smear test. Women who have an abnormal smear test result are usually invited to hospital for further investigation. Treatment is then offered to remove any pre-cancerous cells.
Previous research suggests that such treatment may later increase the risk of a woman having a baby before it reaches its due date.
The new study, by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London, looked at data concerning 44,000 women in England and found no such risk.
Compared with the general population of women in England where 6.7 births per 100 births are pre-term, researchers found that women treated for cervical disease before pregnancy had about 1.4 additional premature births per 100 births, compared with those who only had a biopsy before pregnancy.
The paper, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that after adjusting the results to account for the type of treatment and whether it occurred before or after birth, no increased risk is associated with the treatment.