More than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States, and the rate of preterm birth (PTB) is on the rise [1]. Infants born prematurely account for a high percentage of perinatal mortalities, and preterm infants that survive are at risk for long-term morbidities including neurologic, respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal complications [2]. Altered mechanical and biochemical properties of the uterine cervix are suspected to cause premature and spontaneous cervical dilation, which is associated with a leading cause of PTB known as cervical insufficiency (CI). The impact of this condition is unknown because diagnosing CI remains controversial. Multiple etiologies are believed to lead to an insufficient cervix, or a soft cervix. Yet, there is no standard method to quantify the mechanical strength of the cervix, limiting the ability to discern these etiologies, to stage the progression of labor, and to identify and manage high-risk CI patients.

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