Risk Factors for Preventable Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is defined as babies born before 37 weeks gestations according to the CDC. One in every 10 infants is born preterm and is at risk for various health problems such as developmental delays, hearing or sight problems, among others (CDC 2019). According to March of Dimes, preterm birth and associated complications is the number 1 cause of death of babies in the US.  


The rate of preterm birth (PTB) has gone up in the past few years despite a decrease for many years prior. Edward McCabe with the March of Dimes recognizes that there are many factors that cause PTB that are not preventable, but noted in an editorial that there should be a focus on two that are. “Pediatricians must be aware of strategies that will reduce preventable PTBs and become champions for strategic implementation (McCabe, 2019).”  


One preventable risk factor includes elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation, due to uncertainty with gestational aging. There has been a big push among health care providers to avoid inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy. The second risk factor causing preventable PTB is multiple embryos being implanted during assisted reproductive technology (ART). The number of births with multiples has increased over the years due to an increase in the use of ART, however a decrease in triplet and higher order births coincides with the implementation of professional standards.  


McCabe believes there needs to be advocates who will actively champion for a safety culture surrounding birth practices, “a preventable PTB represents a preventable medical injury and therefore is a patient safety problem and a medical error, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (McCabe, 2019).” 


For more information on preventable preterm birth with resulting complications, visit March of Dimes, or contact us here at Holton Law Firm. 

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