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(BPT) - There are many misconceptions out there about pregnancy and preterm birth. Staying pregnant to full term, 39-40 weeks, is one of the best ways to give babies the time they need to grow. Preterm birth — or delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy — can prevent growth and development from happening inside a baby’s body during the final weeks of pregnancy. Here are some common myths about preterm birth:
MYTH: Preterm birth is rare, especially in a country like the United States.
REALITY: The U.S. preterm birth rate is 9.84 percent, meaning approximately 1 in every 10 babies is born preterm, and more than 1,000 babies are born preterm every day.
MYTH: After 37 weeks, the baby is considered full term and has reached full development.
REALITY: At 37 weeks, a baby is considered early term, but not full term. While 37 weeks is an important milestone for expecting mothers, newborn outcomes are not uniform even after reaching this stage. Critical development occurs through the pregnancy, including the last three weeks. Each week of gestation up to 40 weeks is important for a baby to develop before delivery.
MYTH: Babies born between 34 weeks to 36 weeks, 6 days generally do as well as full-term babies.
REALITY: Major organs, like the brain and lungs, are among the last to develop and important developments occur during the final weeks of pregnancy. Compared to term infants, infants born between 34 weeks to 36 weeks, 6 days were four times more likely to have at least one medical condition diagnosed and 3.5 times more likely to have two or more conditions. Explore inside the womb to learn more about the important developments that occur during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
MYTH: A healthy weight is the key factor to determine a newborn's overall health.
REALITY: While a healthy weight is an indicator of overall well-being, allowing the baby to grow in the womb until 39-40 weeks is one of the most important factors to a newborn’s health. Babies who are born during the late preterm period may pass for full term in looks. On the outside they may be the same size as full-term infants, but on the inside there is a significant amount of growth occurring with the brain, lungs, liver, eyes, ears and more.
MYTH: Preterm birth is always unexpected and unavoidable.
REALITY: While preterm birth is often unexpected, there are known risk factors associated with preterm birth that can help determine your risk. For some of these risk factors, there may be ways you can reduce your risk. Risk factors include, but are not limited to:
• Prior preterm birth (unexpectedly delivered a baby before 37 weeks in the past)
• Pregnant with twins, triplets or other multiples
• Problems with uterus or cervix
• African-American heritage
• Health issues, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
• Being overweight or underweight
• Smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs
• Short time between pregnancies
If you think you may be at risk for preterm birth, talk to your doctor about your individual situation. You can learn more about preterm birth by visiting www.growthyoucantsee.com.
Content provided by AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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