The United States (US) Has a High Rate of Premature Labor or Preterm Births

According to a new report from the March of Dimes Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other leading health agencies, preterm birth or premature labor rates are higher in the United States (US) than in 130 other countries, including many poorer nations. This is the first report ever that estimates preterm birth rates by country. The US ranked 131st, in between Congo and Nigeria, out of 184 countries with a premature birth rate that occurs in 12 out of every 100 live births. Each year in the U.S., nearly half a million babies are born before 37 weeks’ gestation.

Worldwide, more than 1 in 10- 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, and more than 1 million die from complications due to being born early. That makes preterm birth the leading cause of newborn death worldwide, and the second-leading cause of death for newborns, toddlers or children under the age of 5. The premature babies or preemies who do survive preterm labor often have lifelong health problems and medical expenses. According to a 2006 Institute of Medicine report, preterm births cost the US more than $26 billion annually.

Doctors, obstetricians or nurse midwives should do everything they can to prevent or try and stop a premature birth. If not, your baby can be born with respiratory or breathing problems, intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) or bleeding on the brain, intestinal problems, organ damage, sepsis, infection, a high bilirubin, jaundice, kernicterus, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) or blindness, deafness from antibiotics such as Gentamicin, hyaline membrane disease (HMD), respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), brain damage, mental retardation, low glucose or blood sugar levels, developmental delays, neurologic injuries, developmental delays, learning disabilities, milestone delays or cerebral palsy.

Some of the more common causes of a premature birth are:

  • A previous preterm or premature delivery
  • Multiple pregnancies or carrying multiples (twins, triplets or more)
  • Uterine problems such as an infection, chorioamnionitis, placental abruption, bicornate uterus, uterine scarring or abdominal trauma
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Thin cervix
  • High blood pressure, pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH), pre-eclampsia or eclampsia
  • Diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • Cigarette smoking or nicotine replacement patches, gum or lozenges
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Maternal age if under 18 or over 30
  • Poor prenatal care or no prenatal care
  • Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
  • Low body mass index
  • Untreated urinary tract infections
  • Group B strep infections

If you went into preterm labor or had a premature birth and your baby now has permanent injuries, brain damage, cerebral palsy or developmental delays, please feel free to contact one of our experienced birth injury lawyers, doctors or nurses at (215) 866-2424. Our knowledgeable premature birth team consists of attorneys, physicians, labor and delivery nurses, emergency room nurses and neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurses who have actually cared for and treated women who presented in premature labor or had delivered a premature baby. Our medical experience and knowledge has led to us obtaining two of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history.


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