A recent United Nations report on premature birth is not encouraging for Ohio residents and the rest of the United States. The rate of premature births has doubled since 1995 in developed countries, up six percent and, unfortunately, up 12 percent in the United States.
A normal pregnancy lasts 37 to 42 weeks. A baby born at 36 weeks or less is considered premature. About 70 percent of premature babies are born at 34 to 36 weeks. About one in eight is born at 32 to 33 weeks, one in ten is born at 28 to 31 weeks, and the remaining six percent born before 28 weeks. The more premature the baby’s birth, the worse the health outlook is for a baby.
According to the report, of 15 million babies born prematurely in 2010, 1.1 million died. Those who survived are likely to develop health complications and problems as a result. These include breathing disorders, bleeding on the brain, and infections. The tiniest babies, those born before 28 weeks, will need intensive care to survive.
According to an author of the UN report, simple measures could save the lives of up to 75 percent of the babies who die, even without the help of sophisticated medical centers. Carrying tiny infants snug against the mother’s chest keeps them warm and lowers the risk of death. Additionally, an inexpensive drug can be given to mothers in premature labor to help the baby’s lungs develop.
Causes and Prevention
In poorer countries, premature birth tends to result from maternal health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking. Often there is inadequate access to prenatal care-a huge benefit to preventing premature births.
However, in the United States, many premature births are thought to happen as a result of medical intervention. Doctors may elect to induce labor or perform Cesarean sections for convenience instead of medical necessity and schedule delivery at what they think is 37 weeks. Too often, the pregnancy is actually at only 34 to 36 weeks.
The March of Dimes suggests that doctors aim to perform c-sections no earlier than 39 weeks unless there is some urgent medical reason to deliver sooner.
Ohio families who experience a premature birth may have many questions about the quality of medical care during pregnancy and birth. Contact our experienced birth injury attorneys today.