About World Prematurity Month:
World Prematurity Month is an awareness campaign launched by the March of Dimes to address the crisis of prematurity and help families have full-term, healthy babies.
- For the first time, the complications of preterm birth outrank all other causes as the world’s number one killer of young children.
- Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result.
What is a premature birth?
- A birth at less than 37 weeks gestation based on the obstetric estimate of gestational age.
- Preterm babies may face more health problems or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born on time.
- Some premature babies also face long term health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.
Causes of preterm birth:
- Preterm birth can happen to any pregnant woman.
- It happens more often to some women than others, especially if they make certain lifestyle choices that may not be healthy for mom and baby during pregnancy.
The good news:
- The national rate of preterm babies has been on the decline consecutively for 7 years - to 9.6 percent of babies born today. This mean thousands of babies have been saved from being born too soon. It also has saved our nation billions of dollars in excess health care costs.
The bad news:
- Louisiana continues to receive an “F” from the March of Dimes (2015 report card), with a premature birth rate of 12.3% in 2015, much higher than the national average.
Reducing risk of preterm labor:
- Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take street drugs. Ask your provider about programs in your area that can help you quit.
- Go to your first prenatal care appointment as soon as you think you’re pregnant and continue with regular prenatal appointments throughout pregnancy.
- Maintain a healthy weight/weight-gain before and during pregnancy.
- Get treated for chronic health conditions.
- Protect yourself from infections.
- Reduce your stress. Exercise, be active and eat healthy foods.
- Wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again.
Touro’s Successful Hard Stop to Prevent Early Elective Deliveries:
- The state of Louisiana has some of the highest early elective and premature delivery rates in the U.S., with serious ramifications for the health of both babies and their mothers.
- Early Elective Deliveries are births scheduled without a medical reason between 37 and 39 weeks of pregnancy, either by induction or cesarean section.
- Leaders at Touro made a commitment to reducing that rate in 2012, by initiating a hard stop policy to prevent Early Elective Deliveries before 39 weeks.
- The initiative was led and supported by its medical staff. They educated their clinical staff on the importance of the initiative, ensuring that everyone was on the same page in carrying out the new policy. Touro works continually re-educate physicians, nurses and scheduling staff on the importance of the hard stop. Everyone understands the policy and the health benefits for their patients.
- Reducing EEDs is critical to health outcomes for both babies and their mothers. Women request earlier deliveries without knowing the negative clinical implications.
- Babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks in the womb. Important development of their brains, lungs and eyes occurs in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39-40 weeks.
- Lower-brain functions mature first; the cerebral cortex is last to develop. The cerebral cortex controls higher order functions such as cognition, perception, reason and motor control.
- Cerebral cortex volume at 34 weeks is 53% of the volume it is at 39-40 weeks.