On average per week 184 babies are born too soon in South Carolina. Dr. Alan Fleischman, Senior Vice President and Medical Director of the March of Dimes Foundation says that half-a-million babies who are born premature in the United States every year, “and that is a major problem. ”
According to reports the cost is $26-billion dollars every year in the U.S., but if some of that prematurity can be prevented, ” much of that money can go for other health care services,” says Fleischman.
Dr. Fleischman says that every woman needs to know about the risk factors.
They start with some of the medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, obesity and under nutrition. And some behavioral issues: smoking, alcohol, drug use, all risk factors that we can do something about before getting pregnant.
Dr. Fleischman says there appears to be a significant gap in communication between pregnant women and their health care provider.
Well you know, the docs say they don’t have a lot of time. They also say there’s not a lot they can do to prevent preterm birth, and that’s not true. Because if the women know about the risk factors, they can do something about it. And the docs also say that they don’t want to get the women anxious. Well I think women want to be part of their health care. They want to be part of preventing preterm birth. They need the information.
While there has been great progress in caring for babies who are born in preterm, this is not the case in preventing preterm births.
Fleischman says we have not made a lot of progress on preventing preterm birth except in one area.
We now have some medicine that can be used to prevent recurrence in preterm birth. Because the highest risk factor for having a preterm birth is having had one.
Dr. Fleischman says women need to realize the importance of discussing their lifestyle habits and medical history with their physician.
She needs to share information with her doctor. She needs to tell her doctor her whole medical history. She needs to tell the doctor about her family medical history. And like I’ve said, if she’s had a bad outcome of a pregnancy like a preterm baby, she needs to talk about that with her doctor.
Dr. Fleischman tells which women are at higher risk for preterm births.
It’s the young and the old. So, young women in their teen years are more likely to have preterm births, and because many women are putting off pregnancy into their late thirties those women are also at higher risk. And any woman who has multiple pregnancy, in other words, twins or triplets or higher, are at high risk for preterm birth.
A survey about preterm birth showed the majority of new and expectant mothers and almost half of mothers who have delivered preterm have not discussed preterm birth with their health care provider. Dr. Fleischman says it’s important that women initiate a conversation with their health care providers about knowing the risks.