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Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality worldwide, but current interventions to prevent prematurity are largely ineffective. Preterm birth is increasingly recognized as an outcome that can result from a variety of pathological processes. Despite current research efforts, the mechanisms underlying these processes remain poorly understood and are influenced by a range of biological and environmental factors. Research with modern techniques is needed to understand the mechanisms responsible for preterm labor and birth and identify targets for diagnostic and therapeutic solutions. This review evaluates the state of reproductive science relevant to understanding the causes of preterm birth, identifies potential targets for prevention, and outlines challenges and opportunities for translating research findings into effective interventions.
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