Labor that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy is known as preterm labor. It is estimated that nearly 12 percent pregnant women undergoes preterm labor. Premature labor increases the risk of health problems in newborns. Fortunately, advancement in medicine and technology could effectively reduce the health hazards in infants. Nonetheless, to reduce the risk of preterm labor, you should know the risk factors associated with this condition. Modifications in lifestyle could to some extent help to reduce the incidence of premature labor.
Preterm delivery and infant health hazards
Full term pregnancy, lasting for around 40 weeks, helps the infant to develop properly in the mother’s womb. Premature babies born due to preterm delivery have higher risks of developing health problems. Studies have shown that infants born before 24 weeks of pregnancy have 50 percent chance of survival. The risk of permanent health damage is greater among infants born before 24 weeks of pregnancy. They have higher risk of permanent brain damage, long-term neurological problems, and breathing and digestion difficulties. Compared to infants born after full term pregnancy, babies born during earlier phase of pregnancy have slower pace of development. Moreover, immature babies have greater risk of displaying poor learning skills in the future. However, survival rate is greater among infants born after 32 weeks of pregnancy. These babies also have lower risk of developing long-term health complications.
Preterm delivery risk
The exact reason for preterm labor is not clearly known. The risk of preterm delivery is greater among women pregnant with twins or multiples. Women with a history of premature birth have greater risk of premature labor in subsequent pregnancy. Abnormalities in the uterus and cervix can lead to preterm labor. Infections of the urinary tract and vagina and sexually transmitted disease could cause preterm delivery. Preterm labor can occur due to hypertension, diabetes and kidney diseases. Being obese or underweight can increase the risk giving birth to premature babies. The risk of premature labor could increase if unexplained vaginal bleeding occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Multiple abortions could also cause this condition. Smoking, alcoholism and substance abuse during pregnancy are often responsible for this condition. Excess stress during pregnancy can cause premature labor. The risk of this condition increases with poor prenatal care.