November 17 is World Prematurity Day: the day when the March of Dimes and other organizations band together to raise awareness about the global problem of premature birth. In honor of this day, here are some important facts and statistics regarding premature births:
• a premature birth is a birth that occurs at least three weeks before a baby’s due date
• a birth that occurs at week 40 of pregnancy or after is considered full term
• carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets or more) is a risk factor for premature birth
• cigarette smoking and alcohol use are also risk factors for premature birth
Because there is important growth and development that takes place in the late stages of pregnancy, it is important to make every effort to carry to full term. When babies are born prematurely, it can cause a variety of health problems including intellectual disabilities, breathing and respiratory problems, visual problems, hearing loss, and feeding and digestive problems. However, sometimes health problems with the mother or the baby will require that a baby be born earlier than 40 weeks. The earlier a baby is born, the more severe his or her health problems are likely to be. For this reason, it is vitally important to let your OBGYN know if you are experiencing any warning signs of premature birth including the following:
• pelvic pressure
• vaginal bleeding
• low, dull backache
• cramps that feel like a menstrual period
• abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
In most cases, premature labor begins unexpectedly and with no known cause. This is why it is so important for pregnant women to be aware of the warning signs of premature labor. If you want to get more information about premature labor or to find out how to improve your chances of carrying to full term, talk to your OBGYN today.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.
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