What is a Premature Birth?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a premature birth is defined as any birth that occurs at least three weeks before a mother’s due date. Because most babies are delivered full term at 40 weeks, a premature birth occurs at 37 weeks or less. Approximately 500,000 babies in the United States are born prematurely every year; one out of eight infants are born prematurely annually. In 2009, 35 percent of all infant deaths were related to prematurity. Preterm births are the leading cause of neurological disabilities among children. The earlier a child is born, the more likely he or she will have health-related problems.

What Types of Problems Can Result from Premature Births?

While in the womb, a fetus is constantly growing and developing. As a result, every week contributes to a fetus’ development. Premature infants have a greater risk of having the following problems: intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, respiratory problems, visual impairments, hearing loss, jaundice and feeding issues. Most premature babies require medical interventions and usually require longer stays in the hospital.

What are the Risk Factors that Cause Prematurity?

There are several risk factors often associated with preterm deliveries. For instance, having a previous preterm birth increases a mother’s chances of having another premature baby. In addition, women carrying more than one child (twins, triplets) have a greater risk of having premature children. African-American women are 50 percent more likely than white women to have a premature delivery. Chronic maternal health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, increases the likelihood of having a premature child. Infections and smoking cigarettes during pregnancy are also contributing risk factors associated with premature deliveries.

What Can Expectant Mothers Do to Prevent Premature Births?

First, expectant mothers who have had a premature baby before can be injected with a medication, Makena, to reduce the likelihood of having another premature child. However, the drug is not approved for all cases, and pregnant mothers should talk to their doctors before taking any medications. Second, pregnant women should stop smoking and drinking alcohol to reduce their risk of having a premature child. Third, women with health problems should seek medical treatment to control certain conditions such as high blood pressure. Finally, women should seek prenatal care to be monitored throughout their pregnancy.

How Can Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC Help?

If your child suffers from lifelong injuries as a result of a premature birth, our law firm may be able to help. In some cases, medical malpractice may be a contributing factor in premature births. Doctors may fail to diagnose certain medical conditions in the mother or unborn child that can cause premature births. If retained, we will investigate your claim and recover compensation from those responsible.  Contact the Birth Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC today.

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