Why 9 Months Count
Growth and development in the last part of pregnancy are vital to a baby's health. The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chance that he or she will have health problems.1
The problem of preterm birth
Some premature babies are fine; they are just small. However, preterm birth is the most common cause of health problems in newborns today. Babies born before 37 weeks may not have had enough time to develop, and may be at risk for health problems. Some of these problems can be treated in the hospital's NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) after birth. Others may result in lifelong problems, including developmental issues and learning disabilities.
Preterm birth is on the rise
The rate of preterm birth is on the rise in the United States. According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 8 babies born in the U.S. is born premature2 — which is more than 500,000 babies a year. While many of these births occur in women with known risks, over 50% of the mothers of premature babies have no risk factors.
Percent of live births, 1995-2004
By 2004, 1 in 8 babies (12.5% of live births) was born preterm in the United States, representing 508,356 preterm births.2
It is best to talk with your doctor about whether your health history or any current health issues may put you at risk for giving birth early.
- 1. www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp087.cfm
- 2. www.marchofdimes.com