Prematurity Awareness Month

Each year, one in 10 babies – about 15 million worldwide – are born prematurely. To raise awareness of issues surrounding “preemies” and their families, November is Prematurity Awareness Month.

Typical pregnancies last for 40 weeks, though babies born as early as 37 weeks are generally physically mature enough to be considered “full-term.” Any baby born at 36 or fewer weeks is considered “premature” and may be vulnerable to health and developmental issues ranging from underdeveloped organs to immature immune systems. Beginning in the 1990s, improvements in technology and knowledge surrounding neonatal intensive care have dramatically improved the health and futures of premature babies as young as 24 weeks.

While some preterm births are unavoidable, taking good care of yourself during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of preterm labor and premature births. According to the March of Dimes, supporter of Prematurity Awareness Month, here’s what to do:

  • See a physician when you think you are pregnant and go to all of your prenatal check-ups.
  • Be sure to take care of your own health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems or mental health issues.
  • Don’t smoke, drink or use drugs.
  • Reduce your stress.
  • If possible, try to achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy. Talk to your physician about the appropriate amount of weight to gain during pregnancy.
  • Protect yourself from infections.
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