Preterm Birth: Shorter Pregnancies More of a Problem?

Early births are more common.

Preterm Birth: Shorter Pregnancies Less of a problem


While women all over the United States might like the prospect of a shorter pregnancy, preterm birth has been on the rise. March of Dimes reports that while preterm birth is very gradually lowering it is still a huge problem. One that is a difficult problem to solve as there is no real “cause” for babies being born before their ready.

Preterm birth is considered any infant born before reaching the 37th week of gestation, normal gestation is between 40 and 42 weeks. The reasons for  the most part for why early birth occurs so often more so lately than in the past is unknown, as there are many factors and not all are predictable or curable. More than half of preterm births are unexplained and can range from several factors such as age of mother, infections, and carrying multiple fetuses. Though advances in prenatal intensive care has made big developments in being able to care for preterm birth infants but falls behind in actually preventing preterm birth despite dedicated studies trying to solve this problem.

Common affects of a baby being born before full term is neurological, severe to moderate disability, impaired eyesight, attention deficit disorder, intestinal and respiratory problems, as well as developmental delays and learning disabilities. There are even subtle physical appearances narrow heads and faces from underdeveloped skulls to dental problems from narrowed jaws. These problems arise mainly because the infant is underdeveloped and is unable to sustain life outside the womb. Preterm babies are also at a higher risk of death than those born full term.

Most preterm or low birth weight infants have extended hospital stays, residing primarily in the neonatal intensive care unit or NICU, until they are determined to live successfully at home or desired birth weight is reached, this can range anywhere from a few weeks to months. The cost for extensive stays are very high and many parents worry that care for preterm infants may be affected by the Obamacare plan. The United States reached it peak for preterm births in 2006, but is slowly declining. With Obamacare cutting costs for the long term care of preterm babies and the high cost of hospital stays for the infants NICU, it is the opinion that it shows the possible outlook for the care of the fragile bundles of life and how they begin their lives. The burden will be shouldered by the most likely already over stressed parents in raising a child that could potentially live its life with mild to severe health problems and the constant struggle to make the child’s quality of life a good one.

Being a mother of a preterm son born 19 years ago at the gestational age of 28 weeks, 14in long and weighing in at 2lbs 14ozs. I am glad that he received the best care that aided in his determination to survive during his 2 month NICU stay and bringing him home a month early. I am fortunate that despite his early arrival he came through relatively healthy only suffering chronic asthma, learning and developmental delays, and ADHD. I hope that March of Dimes continues in their research to bring the preterm birth rate down to size.

By Teidi Bishop




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