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Speaking of Your Health: Prematurity Awareness

The Logan Daily News - 12/2/2017

What is considered a premature birth? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), premature birth refers to when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A great deal of growth and development happen during the last few weeks of pregnancy. If a baby is born too soon, he or she will miss out on this critical time for development.

Also according to the CDC, the premature birth rate in the U.S. in 2016 was about 1 in every 10 babies born. Babies who are born too soon may face lifelong problems such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, breathing issues, visual problems, hearing loss, and feeding problems. Babies who are born too soon are more likely to have to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time after they are born. Premature birth is also the leading cause of infant death.

There are several risk factors that can make premature birth more likely. These may include:

Drug use during pregnancy (cigarettes, alcohol or other illegal drugs)

Having a previous preterm birth

Certain infections during pregnancy

Uterus or cervix problems

Chronic problems in the mother, such as high blood pressure or diabetes

Being pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets)

Many risk factors for premature birth cannot be controlled. A woman can sometimes do everything "right" during pregnancy and still have a premature baby. However, drug use is something that the mother can control. Smoking during pregnancy remains one of the most common preventable causes of preterm birth and infant death. According to the Ohio Department of Health, in 2010, 30.9 percent (almost one in three) of women who had a live birth in Ohio smoked in the three months before becoming pregnant. Of those women, 16.3 percent continued smoking through the last trimester of pregnancy.

If you are expecting or know someone who is pregnant and needs help to quit smoking, contact the Hocking County Health Department at 740.385.3030 ext. 255. A program called Baby & Me- Tobacco Free is here to help pregnant moms quit smoking and stay quit after delivery. Participants who complete the program successfully will receive vouchers toward the purchase of diapers each month for up to 12 months postpartum.

Brittney Tschudy, BSH, RN, TTS Hocking County Health Department, writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.


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