Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Facts About Late Prematurity

by Melissa Garvey, ACNM Writer and Editor

Did you know that November is Prematurity Awareness Month? More than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States each year. More than 70% of those half a million premature babies—which translates to more than 350,000—are born late preterm, between 34 and 36 weeks gestation.

Often, late-preterm births occur as a result of pregnancy complications or health problems in the mother or fetus. However, the March of Dimes and other organizations, are concerned that many late-preterm births happen via induced labor or cesarean section at the request of the mother and/or health care provider without medical justification.

Why the concern? Although 99% of late preterm babies survive, a few weeks gestation makes a huge difference in infant health. Here are the facts.

Late preterm babies are:
  • six times more likely than full-term infants to die in the first week of life (2.8 per 1,000 vs. 0.5 per 1,000).

  • three times more likely to die in the first year of life (7.9 per 1,000 vs. 2.4 per 1,000).

  • usually between 4½ and 6 pounds and may appear thinner than full-term babies.

  • at higher risk than full-term babies for newborn health problems, including breathing and feeding problems, difficulties regulating body temperature, and jaundice.

  • at increased risk for learning and behavioral problems. At 35 weeks, a baby’s brain weighs only two thirds of what it will weigh at 40 weeks.
Learn more and take action by joining the March of Dimes Fight for Preemies. You can also learn more about the prematurity in your state by viewing the March of Dimes premature birth report cards.

1 comment:

MoDLin said...

Great post! Thanks so much for helping to spread the word about the seriousness of premature birth.