More than 500,000 babies a year are now born prematurely, a 30 percent rise in the last twenty years. CNN reports that this has translated into more than $26 billion a year in added healthcare costs.
Researchers are calling for more studies on premature babies because, frankly, doctors do not always know what causes preterm births or how to prevent them. Doctors do know, however, that the following characteristics put babies at higher risk for premature birth:
- Previous preterm births (doubles the risk of a second);
- Twins (increases the risk by 40%);
- Poor women are at greater risk, as are those who are under 16 or over 35;
- African-American women are 6% more likely (17.8%) to deliver prematurely than Caucasian or Hispanic women (11.5% and 11.9%).Full-term pregnancy is defined as anywhere from 38-42 weeks. Babies born before week 38 are considered premature, and 20% of those who are born before week 32 don’t live longer than a year.
Until more research can be done, the Institute of Medicine, an independent advisor to the government, recommends that women receive a first-trimester ultrasound to determine the fetus’ exact age (important if the woman has to be induced or have a C-Section before her due date).
If you or a family member believe your baby may have been born prematurely and suffered injuries due to medical mismanagement you can contact Regan Zambri & Long on line or by telephone (202) 753-4272 for a free consultation.