- In the United States, 1 in 8 babies is born prematurely.
- Worldwide, 13 million babies are born too soon each year.
- Prematurity is the leading killer of America's newborns. Those who survive often have lifelong health problems.
You can find your U.S. state's 2011 Prematurity Report Card here via the March of Dimes:
As you can see, Vermont is the only state with an A (what are they doing right?). Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Puerto Rico all have F's.
- There are now more babies born at 39 weeks than at full term.
- The average time a fetus spends in the womb has fallen seven days since 1992.
- In the last two decades, the number of babies born at prior to 37 weeks increased by more than 30 percent, and babies born at 37 and 38 weeks rose more than 40 percent.
- In 2007, 9.6 percent of births were early – through scheduled inductions or C-sections – for non-medical reasons.
- Deliveries at 37 and 38 weeks account for about 17.5 percent of total births in the United Statess.
- Of the 540,000 babies born before 37 weeks gestational age each year in the United States, approximately 75 percent are born between 34 and 36 weeks.
Premature babies also face an increased risk of lasting disabilities, such as mental retardation, learning and behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, lung problems and vision and hearing loss. Two recent studies suggest that premature babies may be at increased risk of symptoms associated with autism (social, behavioral and speech problems). Studies also suggest that babies born very prematurely may be at increased risk of certain adult health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billon every year, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Any woman can give birth prematurely, but some women are at greater risk than others. Researchers have identified some risk factors, but providers still can't predict which women will deliver prematurely. Three groups of women are at greatest risk for premature birth:
- Women who have had a previous premature birth
- Women who are pregnant with twins, triplets, or more
- Women with certain uterine or cervical abnormalities
More and more births are being scheduled early for non-medical reasons, and this is resulting in babies being born prematurely. The March of Dimes “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign is an effort to eliminate preventable preterm births.
Babies born too early may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born full term. Here's why your baby needs 39 weeks:
- Important organs, like his brain, lungs and liver, get all the time they need to develop.
- He is less likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
- Babies born too soon often are too small. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
- He can suck and swallow and stay awake long enough to eat after he's born. Babies born early sometimes can't do these things.
All information is via the March of Dimes