For many families, getting pregnant is such a wonderful and joyous occasion to be celebrated. But doctors often warn expecting parents to wait until after the first trimester (first 12 weeks) before announcing the pregnancy. Why? Pregnancies that are not viable lead to miscarriages that usually happen within the first twelve weeks. Thankfully, women are more open to discussing miscarriages these days, which allows them to find a support system and relate to others who have had similar experiences. However, preterm or premature births seem more difficult to discuss. In honor of March of Dimes, let’s place infant health at the forefront of parenting by learning more about the risk factors of preterm birth.
What is March of Dimes About?
Forty weeks or nine months is the standard for a full term pregnancy. Any baby born before they make it to the thirty-seven week mark is considered a preterm baby. Some babies have been born at thirty weeks and survived, and others have been born at thirty-five weeks and didn’t make it. In the United States, premature births are the number one cause of death for infants and babies. This is where the March of Dimes and infant health comes into play.
According to its official website, marchofdimes.org, March of Dimes has been in existence for over eighty years. Its objective is to reduce the number of preterm births in the US, and provide public awareness, education, and advocacy about the severity of the issue. The March of Dimes also works to provide the needed funding for medical research on prevention methods to reduce the number of preemies that are born each year.
What are the Risk Factors for Preterm Birth?
In some cases, there is absolutely nothing a mother can do to prevent a preterm birth. But there are some medical risk factors, as well as daily life risk factors, that can contribute to premature births. These include, but are not limited to:
- High blood pressure
- Over or underweight before and during pregnancy
- Family history of preterm births
- Previous preterm births
- Being pregnant with twins or triplets
- Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
- Smoking during pregnancy
- Abusing prescription medication or using recreational drugs
- Physical abuse
Babies born before thirty-seven weeks are more likely to have developmental delays as well as learning disabilities, issues with lungs and breathing, issues with hearing, and possible vision loss.
For tips on sustaining a healthy pregnancy, read Hospitality Health ER’s blog here.