October is coming to a close, and November – Prematurity Awareness Month- is right around the corner. Premature birth is a leading cause of infant death in the United States.
Premature birth is defined as a birth occurring before 37 weeks gestation. Being born preterm can prevent many important fetal growth and developmental milestones for babies. Babies who are born preterm may spend significant amounts of time hospitalized in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), and they may face lifelong health and developmental problems.
In 2014, 1 in 10 babies born in the US were born premature. According to the CDC, many factors can contribute to preterm birth, including:
- Previous preterm birth
- Being pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets, or more)
- Problems with the uterus or cervix
- Chronic health problems in the mother, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and clotting disorders
- Certain infections during pregnancy
- Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or illegal drug use during pregnancy
For moms in Shelby County, there are resources for addressing some of these factors. 17P, a progesterone injection, is available for women who are at risk of preterm birth. The Shelby County Tobacco Prevention program can be helpful for moms who want to quit smoking. Additionally, any primary care physician or OBGYN can help mothers understand and assess their risks associated with preterm delivery and work towards having healthy and full-term pregnancies.
The March of Dimes has information regarding preterm birth and what you can do to help prevent it!
Shayla Lawrence, MPH
Public Health Coordinator- Maternal Tobacco Prevention
Shelby County Health Department
Upon learning she is pregnant, an expectant mother typically does whatever she can to make sure she and her baby stay healthy. She may start eating more nutritious foods, try to reduce her stress, stay away from potentially unsafe medications and stop drinking alcohol. For some mothers, one of the biggest challenges during pregnancy is to quit smoking.
Smoking poses many risks to mothers and babies during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, create problems with the placenta, cause premature birth or low birth weight, and result in birth defects for the baby. Smoking during and after pregnancy also increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS.
Quitting smoking is one of the best things a mother can do for herself and her baby during pregnancy. Quitting smoking can decrease the risk of the above mentioned health issues for babies, and it can also decrease the mother’s risk for many health concerns such as heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Other benefits include smelling better, breathing easier and saving money – very important when there is a new baby!
Shelby County mothers who are pregnant and smoke or who were smokers within three months prior to pregnancy can participate in a program that assists them with quitting smoking and staying quit. Baby and Me Tobacco Free provides education to mothers, and it also provides moms with free diapers for staying tobacco free. For more information on the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program, contact Shayla Lawrence at (901) 222-9268 or at Shayla.Lawrence@ShelbyCountyTN.gov.
Posted in Resources, Tobacco and pregnancy
Tagged babies, education, free diapers, healthy moms, infant mortality, low birth weight, Memphis, premature birth, prenatal care, public health, quit smoking, risk of miscarriage, Shelby County, stay quit, Tennessee, tobacco and pregnancy, tobacco free