Of the 4 million babies born each year in the United States, one out of eight will be premature.  Minority women carry the greatest risk and are usually caught off guard.   Premature babies face multiple challenges and many die within the first year of life.  These challenges include cerebral palsy, physical and intellectual disabilities in addition to emotional family trauma.  Each year $26 billion dollars are spent taking care of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units and is a public health crisis.

 

The good news is that there are new methods of diagnosis that can identify women who are at risk and prolong their pregnancy as much as possible.  Ladies  please take note:  Having your cervix measured at 22 weeks can predict who will be at risk for having babies too soon.  If your cervix measures 20 to 25 centimeters, treatment with progesterone is offered that has been shown to reduce the rate of premature deliveries that occur before 32 weeks.   An awareness of having risk factors can empower you to seek proper treatment early and improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

 

Please report pressure, back pain or abdominal pain to your healthcare provider immediately. Pain or pressure that occurs four or more times in one hour could indicate premature labor and can be treated if diagnosed in a timely manner.  Also get tests for sexually transmitted infections, especially if you have a vaginal discharge, and get treated for urinary tract infections). Bacteria are not your friend during pregnancy however antibiotic therapy is priceless if given in time.

 

Pregnancy is one of the most important milestones of your life.  A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen; it takes a SMART mother who knows what to do.