Premature births in the United States

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12.5% of babies are born premature in the U.S., a total of half a million babies each year. This reflects an increase of over 30% during the last twenty-five years, according to two new reports, one by the Institute of Medicine and the other by the National Institutes of Health. Helping premature babies survive costs $26 billion each year in the U.S. The good news is that more pre-term babies are surviving and fewer teenagers are giving birth. However, the USA ranks 23rd in infant mortality when compared to other developed nations. Even though infant mortality is going down in America - in 2003, 6.8 babies of every 1,000 died during their first year, down from 7 per 1,000 in 2002 - other developed nations have been surging ahead at a much faster rate. The average infant mortality rate in the European Union, which includes its new Eastern European members, is 5 per 1,000.

There are indications which may point towards a higher risk of giving birth prematurely, including: If the mother gave birth prematurely before.
  • If the mother is going to give birth to twins or triplets.
  • Afro-American women are much more likely to give birth early than white or Hispanic women - even when the women have similar incomes, education and access to good health care.
  • Women who have become pregnant as a result of fertility treatment. Even if they are carrying just one child.
  • Extremely young mothers and mothers over 35.
  • Women who are poor.
  • Women who smoke.
  • Women who do not have access to prenatal care.
  • Women who are under a lot of stress.
  • Women who are obese.
These risk factors may be useful to remember if you have a friend who is worried about giving birth prematurely. As many of the risks can be avoided, they may be able to prevent rather than deal with a premature birth

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.