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According to the March of Dimes, the premature birth rate in the United States increased for the first time in eight years. The latest March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card reports that the premature birth rate rose to nearly 10 percent in 2016. The March of Dimes gives the U.S. a “C” grade based on significant ethnic and racial disparities in premature birth rates.
Without proper prenatal care and support, premature babies in underprivileged communities do not have the same chance to survive and thrive as those in more affluent areas. Among African American women, preterm births are 48 percent higher than the average for Caucasian women. The preterm birth rate is 15 percent higher for Native American and Native Alaskan women than Caucasian women. While the U.S. is one of the world’s leaders in medical care and research, it falls toward the bottom in terms of premature birth rate among developed nations.
Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are considered premature. Premature birth is the leading cause of death for babies in the U.S. Preterm babies who survive potentially face a host of health problems—some of which last a lifetime. Complications from preterm birth include breathing issues, jaundice, vision loss, and developmental delays. Premature babies often face weeks or months of care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before they go home.
Besides the physical toll of prematurity, preterm birth can have crushing emotional effects on mothers and fathers. Mothers of preemies often have guilt about not carrying babies to full-term and may suffer from past-partum depression. Both parents experience anxiety, fear, stress, and even post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing their babies in the NICU.
There are also extensive economic costs associated with caring for premature babies. The National Academy of Medicine estimates that immediate and long-term care for preterm babies costs the United States approximately $26 billion every year. With quality prenatal care for every woman in America, a large portion of these costs could be avoided.
The March of Dimes leads the way in educating the public about how important it is to prevent preterm birth, especially in underserved communities. Healthy babies begin with healthy mothers. Making good choices, maintaining a healthy weight, taking prenatal vitamins, and scheduling a fertility check-up with an obstetrician-gynecologist are the first steps toward a full-term pregnancy. Once pregnant, a woman needs regular, ongoing prenatal care to check on the health of her and her unborn baby. An obstetrician can ensure a mother has all the necessary health tests she needs during her pregnancy. Diagnostics tests such as blood pressure checks at every prenatal visit alert the doctor to potential issues. Post-natal care for every new mother is just as important to ensure she is healing physically and emotionally from the birth of her child.
If you or a family member was injured by a physician’s negligence, a South Jersey medical malpractice lawyer at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. will fight for you. We understand what is needed to prove your case and obtain compensation for your medical expenses and ongoing care. Call our Cherry Hill, New Jersey, office at 856-354-9444 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We also have offices in Philadelphia and King of Prussia to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.