Today is World Prematurity Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of the serious health challenges preemies face as well as the life-saving advances that have been developed to help them live long, healthy lives.
In the U.S., approximately 1 in 10 babies are preemies, which is defined as those born before 37 weeks. According to the March of Dimes, while 32 states and the District of Columbia had improved preterm birth rates, 10 fared worse than they did in 2010. To see how your state faired, visit the March of Dimes premature birth report card.
Unfortunately, the overall rate of preterm births in the States is high compared to other industrialized countries. One reason may be a lack of education. In a recent article on NPR: planning for pregnancy does not start with prenatal care, but with understanding risk factors and a woman's wishes regarding family planning, according to Claire Brindis, director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.
Women who are at higher risk of delivering early include those who have had a preemie in the past, those who are carrying multiples and those with high blood pressure. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, learn about additional risk factors on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development site.
Plus, HealthyChildren.org has valuable information on what to expect if your baby is born early and tips for caring for preemies while in the hospital and after they're able to go home.