In the United States, one in 10 babies are born premature, or between 20 and 37 weeks. A full term of pregnancy is at least 40 weeks.
Preterm babies are not only smaller than their full-term counterparts, but they can have a wide range of physical and developmental problems. Those babies who are delivered between 23 and 28 weeks in particular have the highest risk of complications such as cerebral palsy, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, and problems with vision, hearing and digestion.
They also have a higher risk of infections and are most at risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
As you get further along in gestation those risks decrease, Dr. Jill Hechtman, medical director of Tampa Obstetrics in Tampa, Florida said.
Factors like obesity, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse and limited access to prenatal care can put a woman at an increased risk for preterm birth. Women who have high blood pressure, preeclampsia, diabetes or blood clotting disorders and women who are pregnant with a baby who has certain birth defects are also at risk.
Yet for many women, the specific risk factors arent so clear. In fact, two-thirds of premature births have no known biological a recent study of high-income nations published in the journal PLOS ONE found.
Nevertheless, experts say there are some risk factors that could potentially increase your risk for having a preemie.
1. Personal history
The most important risk factor for preterm birth is a prior history of having a premature baby, Hechtman said. In fact, studies show women who previously had a preterm birth are between 30 to 50 percent likely to have a subsequent one.
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