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Premature birth is a worldwide public health epidemic and the No. 1 cause of infant death. Every year, 15 million babies are born prematurely and 1 million die. The rate of premature birth in the U.S. is among the highest in the world. Coinciding with November being Prematurity Awareness Month, Jason K. Baxter, M.D., shares five things expecting mothers need to know about premature birth.
1. Premature birth can happen to anyone.–One in 8 babies is born prematurely in the U.S. These babies are at risk for many health complications and their brains aren’t fully developed.
2. Cervical length and premature birth risk–If the cervix shortens too soon during pregnancy, the risk of premature birth is very high; this happens to about 10 percent of pregnant women
3. Proven treatment to prevent premature birth–Progesterone can prevent preterm birth in women with a short cervix, reducing risk by nearly 50 percent
4. Cervical length screening is a new prematurity prevention strategy–Experts now recommend that cervical length measurements be added to routine prenatal care to make sure that pregnant women with a short cervix get progesterone treatment
5. Pregnant women should ask their doctors about cervical length screening–Women can take an active role in their prenatal care to make sure they’re doing everything possible to give their baby the best chance for a healthy, full term birth
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