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World Prematurity Day: Facts and Resources

by Cassie Moore, ACNM writer and editor

Today, November 17, is World Prematurity Day. And although the United States improved its prematurity rates from 2006 to 2009, we’re nowhere near where we should be. A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to blog about our webinar on managing preterm labor, I was shocked to learn that premature birth has actually increased by 36 percent since the early 1980s. For all our gains in technology and knowledge, we’re doing so much worse in this area than we were 30 years ago, and no one knows exactly why, though there are many theories.

The good news is, the March of Dimes (MOD) and other groups are encouraging big changes to help turn the tide. Hospitals such as the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Keystone obstetrics project and Intermountain Healthcare system in Utah have taken MOD’s recommendations to heart and have moved to eliminate or greatly limit elective inductions and cesarean deliveries before the 39th week of pregnancy.

Nearly 600 midwives and other health care professionals registered for our webinar, Real-Life Strategies for Preterm Labor & Birth, which took place last Tuesday. The webinar will be available free for ACNM members, in the Live Learning Center in December—keep checking back at for updates. Until then, here are some recent facts and resources ACNM has gathered about prematurity that may interest you or your clients. Please feel free to share and add more in the comments!

-MOD will hold a Prematurity Prevention Symposium January 19-20 in Washington, DC. If you’re able to make it, stop by the ACNM booth and say hi!

-MOD is offering a free Preterm labor assessment toolkit for download on their Web site. Registration is required.

-Developed by the MOD Perinatal Data Center, the PeriStats Web site provides free access to US, state, county, and city maternal and infant health data.

-MOD provides in-depth information on premature babies, including possible causes and typical medical complications.

-Preterm infants may benefit from delayed cord clamping, according to a new study

-A “late preterm” infant is born between 34 and 36 weeks. Here, five things parents of late preterm (near-term) infants should know and watch for.

-According to ACOG, the fetal fibronectin test, which measures levels of secretions from a pregnant woman’s vagina and cervix, may be useful for some pregnant women with symptoms of preterm labor to help predict their risk of premature delivery.

-Recent information on how progesterone helps prevent preterm birth.

-In 2006, preterm-related infant mortality rates were more than three times higher for African American women than they were for white women. In this video clip, taken from the PBS documentary “When the Bough Breaks,” one neonatologist theorizes that the chronic stress of racism could play a huge role.

-Women with irregular periods should keep track of them and inform their clinicians to avoid timing a pregnancy inaccurately and inducing too early. Fortunately, this has never been easier with handy computer and smartphone apps developed just for this cause.

-Midwifery care is associated with a decreased incidence in infant mortality and low birth weight, and a large matched cohort study demonstrated that women who received their care in a Centering Pregnancy group experienced a significant reduction in prematurity compared to their study counterparts who received traditional prenatal care.

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Posted 11/17/2011 8:49:32 AM



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