Thursday, Nov. 17 marks a special day for parents whose bundles of joy arrived earlier than expected. World Prematurity Day is designed to raise awareness of the risks of premature birth — now the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.
An estimated one in eight babies are born prematurely, says the March of Dimes, and babies who survive often suffer from lifelong medical and developmental disabilities. But what causes prematurity?
It’s often hard to say, according to doctors Louis Muglia, M.D., and James Greenberg, M.D., of the Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth (cincinnatichildrens.org/research/divisions/c/preterm-birth) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC).
Approximately 70 percent of premature births are spontaneous and without clear causes. The need for answers has driven a unique collaboration between CCHMC, local hospitals and health agencies, as well as research facilities around the country.
The Center aims to reduce the number of premature births with a multi-faceted approach that includes research, community outreach and education. Research is done through the March of Dimes’ Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative, which includes more than 100 faculty investigators conducting a range of studies on everything from genetics to racial disparities. (Prematurity disproportionately affects African-American women, according to Greenberg, but it’s also unclear as to why.)
The Center’s Cradle Cincinnati program (cradlecincinnati.org) includes area hospitals and health agencies like the Hamilton County and City of Cincinnati Health Departments, and offers resources and information to expecting parents.
Two important messages for women:
- Wait one year between delivery and getting pregnant again.
- Stop smoking.
The Center’s Familial Preterm Birth Clinic provides consultations for high-risk pregnancies — those women who have a family history or previous preterm births. Two maternal fetal specialists are available, who make recommendations for interventions and potential treatments. Expecting moms can contact the clinic at 513-636-3882.
“We’re very accommodating to schedules,” says Muglia. “We would love for people to come to us. We really want everyone to have a healthy pregnancy.”
Share Your Story
Join World Prematurity Day by sharing your photos and stories at facebook.com/worldprematurityday. For more information on prematurity rates across the United States, and to see how your city and state compare, head to marchofdimes.org for a look at the Premature Birth Report Card.
Babies born in the second trimester now have a diaper just for them, thanks to Procter & Gamble’s new preemie Swaddlers. The diapers, (available to hospitals by the end of the year), come in size P-3, which is for babies weighing less than 1.8 pounds. They feature a narrow core, which keeps Baby’s legs from being pushed apart and helps him sleep comfortably, as well as features that allow nurses to easily manipulate feeding tubes and other medical necessities.