HEALTHIER YOU: When babies arrive early
BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. It is estimated that 15 million babies around the world are born premature each year. More than one million of them do not survive their early birth. Although the United States has seen sustained improvement in the preterm birth rate, it has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any industrialized country.
A developing baby goes through important growth during the final weeks and months of pregnancy. Many organ systems — including the brain, lungs, and liver — need the final week of pregnancy to fully develop. There is a higher risk of serious disability or death the earlier the baby is born. Some problems that a baby born too early may face include: breathing problems, feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, vision problems, and hearing impairment.
There are some things that pregnant women can do to help reduce their risk of preterm birth and improve their general health. These steps include quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, and obtaining prenatal care.
The most common warning signs of a preterm labor are: contractions (the abdomen tightens like a fist every 10 minutes or more often); change in vaginal discharge (a significant increase in the amount of discharge or leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina); pelvic pressure (feeling like the baby is pushing down); low, dull backache; cramps that feel like a menstrual period; and abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea.
To reduce the risk of preterm delivery by pregnant women with a history of delivering early, consult your healthcare provider to learn what treatments are safe for use during pregnancy. And if you think you are experiencing preterm labor, it is important to see an obstetric care provider right away — they may be able to give you medicine so that the baby will be healthier at birth.
For additional information, contact the Las Vegas All Women’s Care Offices at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane No. 165 (1st floor) in Las Vegas.