A new study has concluded that endometriosis, a common womb condition found in women of reproductive age, could significantly hike the risk of a premature birth.
Although there's no cure for this painful disease, doctors can help prevent an early delivery if they realise the mother is at risk.
Endometriosis often shows no symptoms, and almost half of all sufferers could be unaware that they have a problem, reports the Telegraph.
Prof David Healy, from Monash University, in Melbourne, Australia, said: "This research is important for all pregnant women and is the first time that endometriosis has been so clearly associated with premature birth.
"Obstetricians will now be able to more readily identify and monitor mothers-to-be who are at increased risk of premature labour and premature birth.
"The key will be early diagnosis, especially as up to 44 percent of women show no symptoms of endometriosis."
To reach the conclusion, the researchers looked at 6,750 births, including to women who had received IVF treatment, as endometriosis can cause fertility problems.
Regardless of whether they had fertility treatment or not the findings, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, show that women with endometriosis were twice as likely to have a premature birth as those who did not suffer from the condition.
Endometriosis causes cells in the lining of the womb lining to stick to other parts of a woman's pelvic area. This in turn causes bleeding which is often painful and can cause lesions and infertility.