US preterm birthrate lowest in a decade -- lots of work ahead!

by Melissa Jaramillo

preterm birthrate lowest in decadeThe March of Dimes just released their 2012 Premature Birth Report Card.

The U.S. has hit a new 10 year low for preterm births. This is a significant improvement now registering at 11.7 percent!

Still, overall, the U.S. scores a "C" as we continue to have a high rate of preterm births comparatively. This is a clear indication of work to be done!

A premature birth is defined as one that occurs at less than 37 weeks gestation. Within the U.S., 1 in 8 babies are born too soon. Premature births -- even at a few weeks early -- can increase the likelihood of risks connected to severe health problems, birth defects, and possible lifelong disabilities.

Premature birth is currently the number one killer of newborns. Economically, there's a potential savings possible of $3 billion in preventing preterm births!

While some causes of premature birth remain unknown, there are steps that parents can take to lower the risk and give you and your baby the healthiest start possible!

Here are several articles that can help you towards that goal:

Baby on the Brain: Your Healthy Body Preconception Checklist

Folic acid critical for early embryonic development

Preventing Premature Births

Pregnancy and Smoking: Need Help Putting Down That Cigarette?

Options for Preventing Preterm Labor

Join with the March of Dimes "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" campaign! The focus is to urge heath care providers and patients not to schedule a delivery until at least 39 weeks gestation unless there is a medical reason (such as pre-eclampsia or babe in distress). Many of your baby's vital organs, including their brain and lungs, are not fully developed until that point!

Read our article about how "holidays put pressure on women to schedule early deliveries." Learn more about the dangers of early delivery, red flags, and healthy birth practices.

What steps have you taken to reduce your risk of preterm labor? Preemie moms weigh in with your experience and thoughts on this campaign! We'd love to hear from you!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.