Preterm birth is a worldwide health issue, as the number one cause of infant mortality and neurological disorders.
Although affecting nearly 10% of all births, an accurate, reliable diagnostic method for preterm birth has, yet, to be
developed. The primary constituent of the cervix, collagen, provides the structural support and mechanical strength
to maintain cervical closure, through specific organization, during fetal gestation. As pregnancy progresses, the
disorganization of the cervical collagen occurs to allow eventual cervical pliability so the baby can be birthed
through the cervical opening. This disorganization of collagen affects the mechanical properties of the cervix and,
if the changes occur prematurely, may be a significant factor leading to preterm birth. The organization of collagen
can be analyzed through the use of Mueller Matrix Polarimetric imaging of the characteristic birefringence of
collagen. In this research, we have built a full Mueller Matrix Polarimetry attachment to a standard colposcope to
enable imaging of human cervixes during standard prenatal exams at various stages of fetal gestation. Analysis of
the polarimetric images provides information of quantity and organization of cervical collagen at specific gestational
stages of pregnancy. This quantitative information may provide an indication of risk of preterm birth.