November is Prematurity Awareness Month
Chances are, you know of someone who was either born prematurely or had a child that was born prematurely. Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely around the world. Tragically, 1 million of these babies are unable to thrive and pass away from complications caused by prematurity. The United States reports one of the highest rates of premature births of all industrialized nations, with approximately 380,000 premature births per year. Premature birth is the number one killer of newborn babies.
Many organizations, such as the March of Dimes, dedicate their time and resources to raising awareness about premature births and providing information as to what can be done to lower the number of premature births throughout the United States. Every November, these organizations lead campaigns to provide the public with important information about preterm births. November 17 has also been recognized as World Prematurity Day.
What is premature birth?
A full-term pregnancy is approximately 40 weeks. Premature births are those that occur before a mother has reached the 37th week of pregnancy. Many babies that are born prematurely face serious physical and mental challenges, such as breathing issues, poor vision, cerebral palsy, and delays in development.
How can premature birth be prevented?
When discussing a baby’s due date, parents sometimes say, “The baby will come when he’s ready!” However, there are actually several steps mothers can take to prevent the risk of a premature birth.
First, it is wise to allow 18 months in between pregnancies. Waiting 18 months ensures that the mother’s body has had plenty of time to recover from the previous pregnancy. Though medical professionals are still researching the specific reasons why 18 months seems to be an optimal length of time between pregnancies, many hypothesize that it has to do with allowing the mother’s levels of nutrients within her body to return to pre-pregnancy levels and ensuring that the mother has recovered from any infections or inflammation. Additionally, the microbiome of the birth canal should have returned to its normal state by 18 months post-pregnancy.
If a woman is pregnant during flu season, she should get a flu shot, doctors advise. Pregnant women who become ill with the flu may be at a greater risk of delivering early.
Additionally, if a woman is smoking, she should quit to reduce the risk of going into labor early.
Women who are planning to become pregnant should speak with their doctors about maintaining their ideal weight. Obese women are especially at risk of delivering early.
Of course, pregnant women should make sure that they attend all of their prenatal appointments. Together, pregnant women and their doctors can work to determine the best plan of care throughout the pregnancy.
What are the risk factors for premature birth?
Some women are at a greater risk of giving birth prematurely. Risk factors include:
- Being pregnant with multiples, such as twins or triplets
- A history of premature birth
- Having abnormalities in the uterus or cervix
- Suffering recurring kidney and/or bladder infections
- Urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and vaginal infections
- Becoming pregnant via in vitro fertilization
- High stress levels
Women with these conditions (and others that may lead to a premature birth) should be carefully monitored throughout their pregnancies.
Was your child born prematurely?
Many premature births could be avoided with proper medical care. If your baby was born prematurely and suffered health problems, contact the Eisen Law Firm today for a free case evaluation. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.