National Prematurity Awareness Month

10 Nov 2015: This is the time for spreading awareness regarding Premature Births. Premature babies are termed when the delivery occurs within 37 weeks of pregnancy. These premature babies are very fragile and a lot of precautions and care is necessary to ensure healthy infancy. Doctors believe premature babies are at a greater risk of acquiring vision, hearing and developmental problems as well as cerebral palsy. These risks increase according to how early the baby has been delivered.

It is first important to understand the causes of premature births to know about taking care of a premature baby. According to research premature births can be caused when the pregnant woman suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes and also if the woman is carrying more than one baby during pregnancy (twins or triplets). Other than these obesity and underweight, various vaginal infections, psychological stress and tobacco smoking are also leading causes to cause premature births.

Doctors are of the opinion that, unless urgently required, a medically induced delivery should not happen before 39 weeks of pregnancy are complete. The cesarean section delivery should also be typically performed past 39 weeks of pregnancy, unless there is a clear case of preeclampsia.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate towards preterm delivery in you or someone you love. The main symptom that indicates towards premature delivery is four or more contractions in under an hour. It is often accompanied by cervical dilation and effacement, as well as vaginal bleeding during the 3rd trimester, abdominal and back pain accompanied by heavy pressure in the pelvis. There are certain additional risks that a premature birth brings on such as infant mortality and neonatal mortality.

Around the world every year more than 10% of neonatal mortality is the result of premature birth. If the premature baby survives the preterm birth there is still a higher risk of developing neurological problems that include apnea of prematurity, retinopathy of prematurity, developmental disability, cerebral palsy as well as intraventricular hemorrhage. The lack of sufficiently developed white brain matter also results in cognitive dysfunction in the child and learning disabilities later on. Certain cardiovascular problems are also seen including certain respiratory complications such as respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) and chronic lung disease.

To avoid the risk of a premature birth it is important for the mother-to-be to undergo regular medical check-ups, especially in the early and middle part of the third trimester. These are certain specific tests that can reasonably predict the amount of risk of premature delivery – Placenta alpha microglobulin -1, fetal fibronectin and an ultrasound test.

There are certain precautions and habits that you can assume to prevent, or lessen the risk of, premature birth – before pregnancy it is recommended to get regular clinical tests and avoid overwork of any kind, avoid heavy weight lifting, have a good and nutritionally balanced diet, increase the intake of folic acid and reduce or quit smoking. During pregnancy it is recommended to undergo routine ultrasound examinations, ensure a healthy nutritious diet, proper medical assistance and advise should be taken, over stress due to work should be avoided and following all the other precautions and care that your gynecologist suggests.

Although you might be at risk to experience a premature delivery due to any of the above given reasons taking proper and extensive self-care by following your doctor’s instructions explicitly is the best way to avoid or lessen the risk of a premature delivery. It is important to spread the idea, cause and preventive methods for premature birth this month.

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