Prematurity Awareness Month: Giving Early Arrivals the Best Chance at a Healthy Start

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17 is World Prematurity Day. In an effort to raise awareness about the serious risks of premature birth, March of Dimes set out on a campaign in 2003 which has led to major accomplishments in research, education and services to those who are at risk of delivering before the 37th week of gestation.

At every point of pregnancy important fetal developments are taking place. From the first weeks when a baby is in the blastocyst stage to the final weeks when the brain, lungs and central nervous system are reaching their fully matured state to survive outside their mother’s womb.

Though there have been major accomplishments since the start of this initiative in 2003, there is still much work to be done in order to give early arrivals the best chance at a healthy start.

Preterm delivery is a leading cause of infant deaths, including SIDS. In 2013 it was estimated that 36% of infant fatalities where related to preterm deliveries. In 2015 one out of every ten babies in the United States was born prematurely. These are some very scary statistics, which is why it is so important that research and education about premature birth continues.

Of children who do survive, there is potential for both short term and long term medical complications.

Short term complications include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Immature gastrointestinal systems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Anemia and infant jaundice
  • Interventricular hemorrhaging
  • Temperature control issues
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Underdeveloped immune systems

Long term complications include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Impaired vision
  • Hearing loss
  • Developmental delays
  • Learning disabilities
  • Chronic health issues

The question now is, what can we do to give these children the best chance at not only surviving but leading a healthy and long life?

Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes and recipient of the prestigious Humanitarian Award says, “Raising awareness of premature birth is the first step to defeating it.” Throughout the month there are numerous events and campaigns around the globe to help raise awareness and funds to further research prematurity. “March of Dimes is dedicated to giving all babies a healthy start in life. We’re investing in research and programs to prevent preterm birth so more women will have full‐term pregnancies and healthy babies.” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse.

Researching and educating the public as well as the medical community of ways to prevent preterm births, along with research, education and services available if the inevitable does occur is vital for these children and their families to thrive.

For more information on about what you can do to help raise awareness about this serious infant health issue visit March of Dime’s Facebook page here.