Premature Deliveries Are Increasing In the United States

although it has been a goal to reduce premature deliveries, or in the ob lingo, preterm deliveries, a bit less than 1/10 births are still born preterm, and most of these, about 75% of these are born between 34 and 36 6/7 weeks. These have been termed the "late preterm births." In fact there has been about a 20% increase of babies born at these weeks of pregnancies in the ten years studied from 1996 to 2006 in the United States. The experts have not been able to turn this around because there have been so many causes of these deliveries. One expert, Dr. Cynthia Bannerman, from Columbia University thinks that we can keep moms with many medical problems pregnant longer than we did in the past. She feels that we have been intervening early when moms have elevated blood pressures and low fluid and twin pregnancies when we could wait longer and have babies delivered at full term which would be healthier. Dr. Suneet Chauhan in the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine Debates in Feb of 2011 argues that this is really not going to be able to make much change in our rate of these late preterm births. Because so many complications like sudden rupture of membranes or complications of the placenta cannot be predicted and mandate early delivery still occur, we will persist in having these birth problems. As with other problems in medicine, a one on one solution is often indicated. Become healthy leading into pregnancy, do what you and your obstetrician can do to maintain that health in pregnancy, and it will be up to science to help us understand the underlying and complex causes that have left us with high and rising rates of premature deliveries in the United States.


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