November is Prematurity Awareness Month when the March of Dimes focuses the nation’s attention on premature birth. It kicks off with the release of the Premature Birth Report Card and November 17th marks World Prematurity Day.
Premature birth is defined as delivery before 37 weeks estimated gestational age and is a very serious health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities. After decades of increases, the rate of premature birth in the United States has now been on a steady decline for the last several years. This decline – to 9.6 percent today – has saved thousands of babies from being born too soon. It also has saved our nation billions of dollars in excess health care costs. Despite this progress, about 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year.
Preventing preterm birth is a challenge because the causes are numerous, complex, and not always well understood. However, there are some important steps to help reduce the risk of preterm birth and improve their general health:
- Quit smoking.
- Avoid alcohol and illicit drugs
- Get prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant and continue it throughout your pregnancy
- Seek medical attention for any warning signs or symptoms of preterm
If you would like to learn more about your risks for premature birth, CONTACT US today to see one of your Bloom Ob/Gyn providers – Dr. Joan Loveland or Dr. Scott Osmun!