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Premature Babies ’
Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Because I carried multiples—and a major risk in such pregnancies is preterm delivery—early labor was very much on my mind this year. And that’s why today, I’m especially happy to report some real good news from the March of Dimes.
According to the org’s annual Premature Birth Report Card, the national preterm birth rate fell to 11.4 percent last year. That’s the lowest in 17 years—and the figure means we as a nation met the federal Healthy People 2020 goal seven years early. Hooray for us mamas!
More than 450,000 babies were born premature in 2013, compared to 2006′s figure of 542,893; that’s when the unfortunate stat peaked. The March of Dimes attributes the improvement to sustained interventions put in place by states, saving close to $12 billion in healthcare and other costs—given that medical expenses for the average premature infant are about $54,000 versus $4,000 for a healthy newborn baby.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death, by the way, and babies who survive after early delivery aren’t out of the woods, of course, with many suffering problems with breathing, jaundice, development, vision, and cerebral palsy.
So the reduction in premature births is a terrific thing. But unfortunately, the news isn’t all good. The U.S. still received a “C” grade on its report card because it missed the ambitious 9.6 percent goal set by the group.
“I’m proud to report that the national preterm birth rate fell for the seventh consecutive year [and was] the lowest in 17 years! We’re celebrating,” March of Dimes president Dr. Jennifer L. Howse told Parents.com exclusively. “[But] we still have a long way to go before every baby gets a healthy starts in life.”
On the state level, 27 states and Puerto Rico saw their preterm birth rates improve between 2012 and 2013. Five states earned an “A,” including my home of California (woo hoo!), plus Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Vermont. Sadly, three states and Puerto Rico, received an “F.” See the full details of the report card here.
With its “Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Campaign”—including a fun bump-selfie PSA—the March of Dimes taken a creative approach to encouraging mamas-to-be to make it to 39 weeks unless an early delivery is medically necessary. And apparently it’s working! Let’s keep at it.
Pregnant? Estimate the big day with our due date calculator. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
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Friday, June 13th, 2014
We’ve heard of twins technically being born a year apart, thanks to a holiday delivery. And one of the twin moms in my multiples Facebook group posted that her twins were technically born in separate months, when the calendar page flipped during her delivery. I thought those stories were amazing enough until I saw this week’s news of the twins born 24 days apart. And “wow” is all I can say.
Massachusetts parents Lindalva DaSilva and Ronaldo Anlunes were excitedly expecting twins, slated to arrive this June—but daSilva’s water broke in February, just 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Naturally, she was terrified of losing the babies when the family rushed to Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and doctors scrambled to manage the contractions with drugs, and provide antibiotics and brain- and lung-maturity medication to protect the babies, according to Today.com.
The first twin came on March 2, weighing just one and a half pounds—but he survived, with intensive care to keep him alive. Recognizing the extreme danger to the other twin if he were to be born at the same time, doctors made the exceedingly rare decision to keep him and the placenta inside. It was a move that Tufts chief of maternal-fetal medicine Dr. Sabrina Craigo told Today.com she’d seen maybe only 10 times in her 20 years of practice.
All the family and medical staff could do was wait and monitor the situation while DaSilva remained in the hospital. Her labor didn’t begin again for nearly a month, with the second twin finally arriving on March 26, weighing a full pound more than his brother. By then, he’d cooked for 28 weeks, when babies’ survival chances soar to 90 percent.
Both twins have been in the NICU since their births, but both are now close to seven pounds and are breathing on their own.
It’s an amazing story, and one that surely provides some measure of comfort for multiples moms fearing early delivery—a fear which has plagued me for the duration of my twin pregnancy. Pregnancy and birth may be frustratingly—even terrifyingly—unpredictable, but it’s very reassuring to have modern medicine on our side!
Pregnant? Find out when your baby is likely to make an entrance with our due date calculator. And don’t forget to like Everything Pregnancy on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in pregnancy news and trends!
Image of twins courtesy of Shutterstock
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Monday, June 17th, 2013
Kanye West was by Kim Kardashian’s side as she gave birth to their baby girl, who weighed in at just under five pounds on June 15, five weeks early, reports E! News. Kim and baby are said to be fine and resting. But I’m sure going into labor that early was a frightening experience for Kim, who already went through an appendicitis scare while five months pregnant.
Any baby born before 37 weeks is considered preterm, or a premature birth. Around twelve percent of babies born in the US are preemies, and premature birth is the leading cause of death among newborns. Those who survive can go on to live completely healthy lives, but often times are more likely than full-term babies to have lifelong health problems like developmental delays, hearing loss, blindness, chronic lung disease and cerebral palsy. No pregnant woman—or new mom—wants to hear that!
How do you know if you’re at risk for a preterm birth? Here are some of the indicators—but these are not guarantees you’ll have a preemie, so don’t freak out just yet!
• You’ve had a premature baby in the past.
• You’re giving birth to multiples.
• You’re over 35.
• You have a chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension.
• You were extremely overweight or underweight before getting pregnant.
• You smoke.
• You’ve experienced severe stress during pregnancy.
• You used fertility treatments to get pregnant.
• You’ve had a urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted infections while pregnant.
As always, you should speak to your OB openly about your full medical history in order for him/her to assess if you might go into labor early. Doctors can’t stop preterm labor, but can delay it for a few days with the use of medication. The last trimester is when the greatest amount of development occurs, so with a preterm pregnancy every extra day counts, and just a few additional days can make a difference in the amount of time your baby may need to be in the NICU.
Often times women going into labor early overlook the symptoms because they think it can’t be happening already. Yes, it can! Here are signs you’re going into labor:
• You’ll feel pelvic pressure, cramps and lower back pain.
• Your contractions—a tightening in your stomach—are coming every 10 minutes, or more frequently. Braxton Hicks contractions are common also, but they will not be as consistent as real contractions.
• If you have blood or a brownish discharge, your water may have broken without you realizing it. Call your doctor right away.
Unless your doctor says to head to the hospital right away, lie down and drink a couple of glasses of water because dehydration often causes cramping, and water can ease your pain. Track your symptoms for an hour and if the pain goes away, it likely wasn’t preterm labor, but only Braxton Hicks contractions you were experiencing, which at times can feel just as real as the real thing. Still relax for the rest of the day as your body has been through a lot. The next day, if you haven’t already, pack your hospital bag, so if this happens again, it will be one less thing you have to worry about!
TELL US: Are you at risk of going into labor early? What have you done to prepare?
Image of Kim Kardashian courtesy of Shutterstock.
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