National Prematurity Awareness Month

Posted on November 22, 2011

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More than a half million babies in the United States—that’s 1 in every 8—are born premature each year. Premature birth is a birth that is at least 3 weeks before a baby’s due date, less than 37 weeks and full term is 40 weeks. Crucial growth and development occurs throughout the pregnancy all the way until the final weeks. Babies born premature many not have any health problems but they are at a higher risk of developing more health problems than a full-term baby would.

Many preterm birth deliveries happen spontaneously, and sometimes doctors decide to deliver a baby early because of concerns for the health of the mother or the baby.  Warning signs of preterm labor include early contractions, change in vaginal discharge, pelvic pressure (the feeling that the baby is pressing down), low backache, crams that feel like a menstrual period, and abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea. If you are nervous that you may have a preterm birth, schedule an appointment with your doctor, or dire cases go to the hospital.  

Risk factors for having a premature birth include carrying more than one baby, having a previous preterm birth, black race, problems with the uterus or cervix, chronic health problems, certain infections during pregnancy, and cigarette or alcohol use during pregnancy. To lower the risk of having premature baby quit smoking and alcohol consumption, regularly attend checkups before pregnancy which includes prenatal care as early as possible, work with physician to control chronic diseases.

For more information visit the CDC Premature Birth website. The Boston Health Start Initiative (BHSI) is also a great resource to check out.

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