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What is premature birth? Do some women have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely?

We spoke to Dr. Sangeeta Gomes, Consultant - Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Sarjapur, Bangalore, who to take care of premature infants and how to handle prematurity-related issues 

What is premature birth? Do some women have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely? RBA
First Published Nov 27, 2022, 1:48 PM IST

Preterm birth is defined as one that happens more than three weeks before the baby's expected due date. Preterm delivery occurs before the start of the calculated 37th week of pregnancy from the delivery date. Premature infants, particularly those who arrive early, may have medical problems. Prematurity-related issues may vary. 
The age of a baby may change based on how soon they are born, such as:
• Between 34 and 36 complete weeks of pregnancy
• Between 32 and 34 weeks (about 8 months) of pregnancy for late preterm birth 
• Before 32 weeks (about 7 and a half months) of pregnancy for incredibly premature delivery
• Preterm birth, which happens at or before week 25 of pregnancy 

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In the late preterm stage, most premature births take place. Some of these factors can help reduce risk. 
For women who have previously given birth prematurely or experienced preterm labor, preterm birth is extremely critical, as it is linked to an elevated risk of utilizing assisted reproductive technologies and having twins, triplets, or more children. If a woman has certain medical conditions, particularly those that only appear during pregnancy, she is also more likely to give birth prematurely. 

Among these ailments like Urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, several vaginal illnesses, such as trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis, high blood pressure, being overweight or obese before conception, short interpregnancy intervals (less than six months between the start of one pregnancy and the beginning of the next), and more.  

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Preterm births are more common in women under the age of 18 because they are more likely to have other illnesses (like high blood pressure and diabetes) that can cause complications and necessitate premature delivery. However, women over the age of 35 are also at risk of giving birth to preterm infants.

Environmental and behavioral factors that may cause serious danger, such as: 
 • Delaying prenatal care
• Smoking
 • Drinking
• Usage of drugs

Stress, prolonged standing sessions, long workdays, and exposure to certain environmental toxins are among the factors that contribute to inadequate social support. Therefore, expecting mothers should get as much rest as they can, and recommended to eat nutritious foods. 

Conclusion - Having a preterm birth baby can come tough on parents as such babies require intense care and support after delivery. Certain risk factors can heavily impact your chances, but they don't always cause preterm labour. In such cases where you are doubtful about your condition, you should get in touch with your doctor early in your pregnancy as it can help you find out the ways by which you can lower your chances and constant monitoring of your baby's growth and development will help you have a check on their health. These are some of the important things that you can do to lower your chances of preterm birth. 


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