5 Things Black Women Should Know About Preterm Birth

man resting his head on his wife's pregnant stomachHaving a ‘bun in the oven’ can be a time of excitement and joy of what’s to come, but if your bun doesn’t ‘bake’ long enough that can be cause for serious concern. According to the CDC, preterm (or premature) labor is responsible for more than one-third of infant deaths during their first year of life. Black infants are particularly susceptible and 2.4 times more likely to be affected versus white infants.

Most babies born prior to 24 weeks have little chance of survival.

Only about 50% will survive and the other 50% may die or have permanent problems. However, babies born after 32 weeks have a very high survival rate and usually do not have long term complications. Premature babies born at hospitals with neonatal intensive care units (NICU) have the best results.

The longer your baby is in the womb, the better the chance he or she will be healthy. Here are five things every expectant mother should know about preterm birth to alleviate fears, minimize potential complications and have a healthy pregnancy.

1. What is preterm labor? 

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Preterm labor is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy gestation. When a baby is born before this period, they are at increased risk for suffering many complications. These include disabilities developing around their neurological system, children having cerebral palsy or other learning disabilities. Preterm infants stay in the hospital longer and may experience more readmissions to the hospital for additional medical care.