Be aware of common causes of prematurity

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Doctor with stethoscope
Valley News - Health

TEMECULA – Expectant mothers follow strict prenatal guidelines to protect their physical health and the health of the developing child. Women can take various steps to help their unborn children make it to full term, but some factors that are beyond their control and may lead to prematurity.

A premature birth is one that takes place more than three weeks before the baby’s estimated due date, according to the Mayo Clinic. Premature births occur before the 37th week of pregnancy, which is considered full term. Prematurity may be staged as late, moderately, very or extremely preterm depending on when the baby is born. Most premature births occur in the late preterm stage between 34-36 weeks. Babies born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy or earlier are very or extremely preterm.

Some causes of premature birth cannot be identified; however, certain factors are known to increase the risk of going into labor early. A pregnant woman with any of the following conditions is more likely to give birth prematurely, according to Healthline Parenthood, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and high blood pressure.

In addition, certain factors related to pregnancy also may lead to premature birth, including poor nutrition before and during pregnancy; smoking, using illegal drugs or drinking alcohol during pregnancy; infections, such as urinary tract and amniotic membrane infections; a previous case of premature birth; an abnormal uterus and a weakened cervix opening early.

Premature babies may face a host of problems that put children’s overall health at risk, such as temperature instability; respiratory problems; cardiovascular issues, such as a heart condition called parent ductus arteriosus; jaundice and bleeding in the brain and poor muscle tone.