According to the Centers for Disease Control, complications from premature birth is the leading cause of infant deaths, bypassing contagious infection and other factors that lead to infant mortality. One in every nine babies born in the United States in 2012 was born prematurely, meaning the baby was born before 37 weeks gestation, and babies born earlier were at the greatest risk of dying.
Risk Factors for a Premature Birth
Several risk factors lead to an increased likelihood that a baby will be born prematurely. Some of these factors include a mother who smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol or uses certain drugs. Other factors have less to do with the pregnant mother’s habits and more with her health, such as certain chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure, an incompetent cervix or uterine issues. Carrying twins or other multiples also puts the babies at risk for premature births, with higher numbers of babies typically being born sooner.
How to Lower Your Risk
While having certain risk factors can increase a baby’s chance of being born prematurely, there are steps an expecting mother can take to help increase her baby’s chances of making it to a healthy birth date. If you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, stop as soon as possible. If you know you are going to try having a baby, stop before you get pregnant. Also, check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy to inquire about how they may affect your growing child.
In addition to avoiding potentially dangerous substances, start receiving prenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant. Getting early prenatal care allows you to speak with your healthcare provider about any health conditions you should monitor during your pregnancy. Early care also lets you monitor your baby’s progress so that any potential problems can be detected as early as possible.
Complications From a Premature Birth
The earlier a baby is born, the more likely it is that she will face serious complications that lead to possible death. The CDC reports that more than one-third of all infants who die were born prematurely. Hypothermia resulting from a low birth weight, and heart defects that lead to heart failure are potentially fatal for premature infants. Premature babies are also at a greater risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome that infants who were born at full term.
For those babies who survive, other complications can arise from a premature birth. Some of these problems can be short-term, such as needing extra time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit while their lungs develop. Other problems stemming from a premature birth can affect the baby throughout his life, including hearing loss, intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy.
If you have lost a baby who was born prematurely, please contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC at 1-800-991-0474. You can also reach us through our online contact form, and we will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss your situation with you.