This week marked the annual World Prematurity Day (Nov. 17) in which parents, providers, researchers and others come together to work towards advancements in preventing preterm births. As the number one cause of neonatal death, prematurity is one of the biggest challenges facing obstetrics. Read on for the Top Five facts about prematurity from this week.
1. Higher maternal stress is linked to premature delivery. Researchers believe that higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol could be the underlying cause for this connection, or at least a key player.
2. Pregnancy within 6 months of delivery carries a 2X increased risk of preterm delivery. It also increases the risk of neonatal death. As you would imagine, providing women with effective means for timing pregnancies is a top priority in the campaign to decrease premature birth. Growing a baby takes a lot, and the body needs time to recover!
3. In addition to being the number 1 cause of neonatal death, prematurity is also one of the greatest contributors to neonatal morbidity and even adult disability. In Sweden, infants delivered at 33-37 weeks gestation account for 74% of adult disability between the ages of 23-29.
4. Here is a factoid with big policy implications- only about half of eligible women receive progesterone shots for preterm birth prevention. Women with a history of a preterm delivery in a prior pregnancy are offered progesterone shots to decrease the risk of a repeat preterm delivery. Increasing the number of eligible women who actually get their progesterone shot is an incredibly important way to decrease preterm births.
5. Preterm birth costs $26.2 billion in the US each year. Not only are preterm birth prevention and advances in treating prematurity important for medical/ ethical/ humanitarian reasons, but it also makes financial sense.
We want to hear from you! How can we help more women gain access to needed medications like progesterone or birth control between pregnancies? What forms of communication are most effective for educating others about prematurity?