Archive for the ‘Prematurity’ Category

World Prematurity Day

Friday, November 16th, 2018

November 17 is recognized around the globe as the 8th annual World Prematurity Day.

Premature birth is birth that happens too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Each year 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely and more than 380,000 in the United States. Babies born too early may face life-threatening complications and have lifelong health problems. Tomorrow, in honor of World Prematurity Day, we are raising awareness of this serious health crisis.

We don’t always know what causes preterm labor and premature birth. Sometimes labor starts on its own without warning. Even if you do everything right during pregnancy, you can still give birth early. Here some things you can do before and during pregnancy to help reduce your risk for preterm labor and premature birth:

  • Schedule a preconception checkup with your health care provider to make sure your body is ready for pregnancy. Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy. And get treatment for medical conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and thyroid problems.
  • Wait at least 18 months between giving birth and getting pregnant again. Use birth control until you’re ready to get pregnant again.
  • Protect yourself from infections. Get vaccinated, wash your hands often, and don’t eat raw meat, fish or eggs. Have safe sex to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.
  • Eat healthy foods and do something active every day. This can help reduce your stress and help you gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use harmful drugs. Ask your provider about programs that can help you quit. Tell your provider about any medicines you take, with or without a prescription.
  • Go to all your prenatal care checkups, even if you’re feeling fine. Prenatal care helps your provider make sure you and your baby are healthy.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what to do if you have even one. This won’t reduce your risk of preterm labor. But it can give you time to get treatment quickly and that may help stop your labor.

There is no single cause of premature birth and no simple solution. March of Dimes is leading the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We’re advocating for policies to protect them. We’re working hard to find solutions and to improve the health care they receive.

Help us raise awareness and join the fight for the health of all moms and babies by posting messages in your social media accounts. Visit marchofdimes.org and find other ways you can help.

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month – Come chat with us!

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

November is Prematurity Awareness Month, and World Prematurity Day is on November 17. Come and chat with us on Twitter. Raise your voice and join us in the fight for the health of all moms and babies to help give every baby a brighter future.

March of Dimes is a champion for families, fighting for the health of moms and babies in communities like yours and across the country. Unfortunately, the preterm birth rate is continuing to rise.  While we believe that every baby deserves the best possible start, not all babies get one. Each year 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide and more than 380,000 are born prematurely in the U.S. Premature birth and its related health problems are the main causes of infant death in the United States and around the world. This is not acceptable, and we are fighting to change it.

You can help families in your community and across the nation by creating awareness of the threats facing moms and babies. Join the #PreemieChat on November 14th at 3 pm ET for a bilingual #WellnessWed discussion.

We hope to see you on Twitter!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Join in the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Premature birth is birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Being born too soon can cause problems for babies all throughout their lives. The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he is to have health problems. Sadly, premature birth and the health problems it can cause are the main causes of infant death in the United States and around the world. We believe that every baby deserves the best possible start. Unfortunately, not all babies get one.

In the United States, more than 380,000 babies are born prematurely every year. This number isn’t getting any better. For the third year in a row, the preterm birth rate in this country has gone up. Equally alarming are the disparities (differences) we see in preterm birth rates. For example, more than 20 percent of premature babies are born to black women. That’s 1 in 5 babies. This is not acceptable, and we are fighting to change it.

This November we ask you to join us in the fight to bring about change. Together we can raise awareness and advocate for the health of all moms and babies. Together we can give every baby a brighter future. Here’s how you can help:

  • Join our Twitter chat on November 14th at 3pm ET. Help us elevate the conversation about prematurity awareness along with an amazing group of organizations. Use #PreemieChat and #WellnessWed.
  • Share/Retweet/Repost March of Dimes messages. Show your support with your friends and followers on your social media pages. Here are some you great social messages you can share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • On November 17th, World Prematurity Day, help us light the world purple! Change your profile picture on Facebook using the World Prematurity Day frame or add a World Prematurity Day Twibbon to your Facebook or Twitter profile picture.
  • Tell your Representative to support the PREEMIE Reauthorization Act of 2018. This bill will maintain and improve federal programs focused on trying to find the causes of premature birth and how to prevent it.
  • Join our advocacy network. Together we can help policymakers understand why the health of women, babies and families is so important. Sign up at actioncenter.marchofdimes.org.
  • Donate and help families. Visit our gift guide to make a difference for all moms and babies. Start a Facebook fundraiser to make a meaningful gift to help moms and babies in your community and across the country. Join the fight for the health of all moms and babies at marchofdimes.org/donate. When you donate November 10-17, your gift will be matched to make triple the impact in the fight for the health of all moms and babies.

Premature birth can happen to anyone. Even if you do everything right during pregnancy, you can still have preterm labor and premature birth. Learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what to do if they happen to you. If you do begin labor early, there are treatments that may help stop your labor. Visit marchofdimes.org to learn more.

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a personal story

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Today’s guest post is Stacey Skrysak. Stacey Skrysak is a television news anchor & blogger based in Illinois. She is a mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two children in Heaven. Through her experience, Stacey has become a voice for premature birth and child loss, all while sprinkling in the trials and tribulations of raising a preemie who was once nicknamed the “Diva” of the NICU. 

It’s a club no parent ever wants to be part of. Yet one in four women will experience the heartbreaking loss of a child, whether it’s through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. We are mothers, fathers, survivors. We are the parents who have the tricky task of learning to spread our love between Heaven and earth.

It’s something you never plan on. After years of infertility, my husband and I were shocked and overjoyed as we found out we were expecting triplets. I knew I faced a high-risk pregnancy, but I never imagined that losing a child could become a reality. As I basked in the glow of three babies growing within me, doctors kept a close eye on me. I did everything by the book, yet our lives forever changed when I went into labor at just 22 weeks gestation. Nothing prepares you for the moment you meet your baby, only to say goodbye hours later.

Our firstborn baby passed away two hours after birth; our son died 55 days later, never seeing life beyond the hospital walls. Within two months, two of our triplets were gone. We were left balancing the grief with trying to stay strong for our survivor, who faced an uphill battle in the NICU.

In the early days of my losses, I felt alone. It wasn’t that people didn’t reach out to offer support. Instead, I shut myself off from the world. I didn’t want to explain the traumatic events that unfolded, and I didn’t want to talk about my babies. I felt like a failure. Two of my three children had died, their premature bodies simply born too early to survive. The guilt overwhelmed me, while my sadness consumed me.

But, as my surviving triplet grew stronger, so did my inner strength. I couldn’t live my life wondering, “Why me?” I pored through my voicemail, emails and other messages and found a support system that spanned the globe. What surprised me the most was the number of people who, like me, experienced a loss. Strangers shared their experience of having to bury a child. Childhood friends reached out to me to share their devastating losses from miscarriage and stillbirth.

Peyton and Parker

I quickly realized, I am not alone.

It’s been more than five years since two of my children died, and while there are still moments of deep heartache, I have found that grief changes over time. These days I find myself in a good place; full of happiness and love as I look at my beautiful daughter, while finding ways to honor and remember her brother and sister in Heaven. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but through my losses, I have found new purpose in life. My triplets taught me to live life to the fullest, for you never know what tomorrow may bring. And while I joined a club no parent ever wants to be part of, I am forever grateful for this group that shares a common bond. I am a mother of triplets, one in my arms and two in my heart. And thanks to others who reminded me I am not alone, I have found life after loss.

  • Visit Share Your Story®, our online community where families who have lost a baby can talk to and comfort each other. Sharing your family’s story may ease your pain and help you heal.
  • Visit our new Wall of Remembrance, a space for parents and loved ones living with loss to pay tribute and share their story.

What do you need to know about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Almost all babies get it before the age of 2. Your baby can get RSV at any time of year, but it’s most common from November to April.

Signs and symptoms of RSV

For most healthy children, signs and symptoms of RSV are similar to those of a cold and can last about two weeks. They can include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sluggish or being inactive
  • Wheezing or having trouble breathing

Some babies have a high risk of getting severe RSV. This includes premature babies and babies with lung problems, heart problems and other chronic illnesses. Severe RSV may lead to other serious infections, like:

  • Bronchiolitis, an infection that causes swelling in the smallest air passages in the lungs
  • Pneumonia, an infection in one or both lungs

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age.

Call your baby’s health care provider right away if your baby:

  • Has a cough that gets worse, or she coughs up yellow, green or gray mucus
  • Has a fever higher than 100.4 F if your baby is younger than 2 months, higher than 101F if your baby is 3 to 6 months old or higher than 103F if your baby is older than 6 months
  • Looks dehydrated. This means your baby doesn’t have enough water in his body. Your baby may be dehydrated if he has fewer tears when crying or sunken eyes or if he urinates less frequently.
  • Isn’t hungry
  • Has a thick nasal discharge
  • Has trouble breathing or her mouth and fingernails look blue

Prevent the spread of RSV

You can help protect your baby from RSV by:

  • Keeping your baby away from people who are sneezing or coughing
  • Making sure everyone who touches your baby has clean hands
  • Keeping your baby away from crowds of people
  • Not letting anyone to smoke near your baby

Babies who are at high risk of severe RSV may get medicine that helps prevent RSV from becoming severe. Your baby may get this medicine called palivizumab during the fall and winter months. The medicine doesn’t cure RSV, and it’s not used to treat children who already have severe RSV or to prevent mild RSV. If your baby is at high risk for severe RSV, talk to her provider about treating your baby with palivizumab.

Treatment for RSV

There is no specific treatment for RSV. If your baby has RSV, you can help relieve symptoms by making sure she gets extra rest and drinks lots of fluids. You can use a rubber suction bulb to help clear mucus from her nose. And use a cool-mist humidifier to help your baby breathe more easily. If your baby has a fever, talk to her provider about using acetaminophen.

For more information about RSV and other health conditions, visit marchofdimes.org

For the third year in a row, more babies are being born too soon.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

According to recent data released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the preterm birth rate in the U.S. rose in 2017. This is the third year in a row with an increase. In 2015, the rate increased to 9.63 percent, in 2016 to 9.85 percent, and in 2017 to 9.93 percent. This is a very alarming trend.

The data also shows great disparities among racial and ethnic groups. The most significant increase in the preterm birth rate was seen among non-Hispanic black women and Hispanic women, while the rate among non-Hispanic white women was essentially unchanged. Babies who are born too soon may face more health problems or need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born on time. Some of these babies also have long-term health effects, like problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision. These problems are affecting more babies whose moms are black or Hispanic.

At March of Dimes, we recognize an urgent need for new solutions to address the serious problems of premature birth. We are working hard to help close the racial and ethnic gaps in preterm birth rates and achieve equity in birth outcomes. We won’t stop advocating, searching for answers or supporting all moms and babies. All babies deserve the best possible start in life and the opportunity to thrive and be healthy.

To learn more visit: marchofdimes.org

The last weeks of pregnancy are important

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

In the last weeks of pregnancy, lots of important things happen to your baby. These changes help your baby have a healthy start. If your pregnancy is healthy, it is best to stay pregnant for at least 39 weeks, and wait for labor to begin on its own. If you choose to induce labor, talk to your provider about waiting until you’re at least 39 weeks pregnant. Inducing labor or scheduling a c-section should only be for medical reason.

In the last week of pregnancy:

  • Your baby’s brain is still growing and developing. At 35 weeks, your baby’s brain weighs just two-thirds of what it does at 39 weeks.
  • Important organs like the lungs and liver need this time to develop and function properly. Babies born too early may have breathing problems and jaundice after birth.
  • Your baby is gaining weight. Babies born at a healthy weight have an easier time staying warm than babies born too small.
  • Your baby is still learning how to suck and swallow. Learning these skills will help your baby feed better and avoid certain feeding problems.
  • Your baby’s eyes and ears are going through important changes. Babies born too early are more likely to have vision and hearing problems.

Your due date may not be correct

It’s hard to know exactly how many weeks of pregnancy you are. An ultrasound can help estimate your due date, but it can still be off by as much as 2 weeks. This means you may not be as far along in your pregnancy as you might have thought. This is why, if your pregnancy is healthy, it’s best if your baby is born at least at 39 weeks. This gives your baby the time he needs to grow.

However, in some instances, you may not have a choice about when to have your baby. If there are problems with your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you may need to have your baby early. If this happens, here are some questions you can you ask your provider about scheduling your baby’s birth before 39 weeks?

  • Is there a problem with my health or the health of my baby that may make me need to have my baby early?
  • Can I wait to have my baby until I’m closer to 39 weeks?

About inducing you labor:

  • Why do you need to induce labor?
  • How will you induce my labor?
  • Will inducing labor increase the chance that I’ll need to have a c-section?

About c-section:

 

Choosing a car seat for your premature baby

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

This is an exciting moment! Your baby has been discharge from the newborn intensive care unit (also called, NICU) and is ready to go home.

Now you need to make sure your baby gets home safe. The law requires that you use an infant car seat when transporting your baby home from the hospital. However, the federal government’s standard for car seat safety has no minimum weight limit nor does it account for the special needs of a premature baby.

Learn about how to keep your baby safe while riding in his car seat before your baby is discharged from the hospital. Here are few tips that may be of help.

Look for these specific guidelines for car seat safety for premature babies or low-birthweight baby:

  • The car seat needs to have a three point harness system. Convertible car seats with a five-point harness system are also good.
  • Don’t pick a car seat with a shield, abdominal pad or armrest. Your baby might have trouble breathing behind the shield or may hurt his face and neck in a sudden stop or crash. Premature babies have weaker breathing airways, be extra cautious with this.
  • A car seat with the shortest distance between the crotch strap and the seat back is best. Ideally, pick one with a crotch-to-seat back distance of 5 1/2 inches. This helps prevent your baby from slipping forward feet first under the harness. You can also place a rolled diaper or blanket between the crotch strap and your infant to prevent slipping.
  • Car seats with multiple harness-strap slots are also good. They offer more choices than other seats and are better for small but growing infants. It’s best to pick a car seat with harness straps that can be placed at or below your infant’s shoulders.

How to place your baby in the car seat

  • Place your baby rear-facing. Keep your baby rear-facing until she reaches the highest weight and height allowed by its manufacturer.
  • Place your baby’s buttocks and back flat against the seat back. The harness should be snug, with the car seat’s retainer clip halfway between your baby’s neck and stomach. The clip should not be on his belly or in front of his neck.
  • Use only the head-support system that comes with your car safety seat. Avoid any head supports that are sold separately. If your baby is very small and needs more support for her head and body, then place blanket rolls on both sides of your baby.

Other safety tips

  • Recline a rear-facing car seat at about 45 degrees or as directed by the instructions that came with the seat. If your baby’s head still falls forward, place a tightly rolled blanket or pool “noodle” under the car seat.
  • Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat of any vehicle.
  • Remember, the back seat is the safest place for all children to travel while in a car.
  • Whenever possible, have an adult seated in the rear seat near the baby in the car seat. If a second caregiver is not available, know that you may need to safely stop your car to assist your baby, especially if a monitor alarm has sounded.
  • Never leave your baby unattended in a car seat, either inside or out of a car.
  • Avoid leaving your baby in car seats for long periods of time to lessen the chance of breathing trouble. It’s best to use the car seat only for travel in your car.

For more information visit Car Safety Seats tips for parents of preemies.

What are antenatal corticosteroids?

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Preterm labor is labor that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have preterm labor, your health care provider may recommend antenatal corticosteroids to help speed up your baby’s lung development and reduce the chances of some complications.

How do antenatal corticosteroids work?

There are two types of corticosteroids that may be used if you’re in preterm labor, betamethasone and dexamethasone. Both of these steroids help your baby’s lungs produce surfactant. Surfactant is a protein that helps keep the small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. When a baby is born full-term, her lungs produce surfactant naturally. But babies born premature do not produce enough surfactant, and that means the air sacs in the lungs do not expand the way they should. This results in premature babies having breathing difficulties.

When should you get antenatal corticosteroids?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends a single course of corticosteroids for pregnant women who are at-risk of premature birth within the next 7 days. This includes women whose membranes have ruptured and women pregnant with twins or other multiples. If you’re pregnant and at-risk for giving birth early, talk to your health care provider and discuss the best treatment options for your specific situation.

Are antenatal corticosteroids effective?

If you’re in preterm labor and you receive antenatal corticosteroids, your baby’s chances of having certain health problems after birth are reduced, including:

  • Respiratory Distress syndrome (RDS). This is a breathing problem most common in babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy. Babies with RDS don’t have enough surfactant and it results in breathing problems.
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). This is bleeding in the brain. It usually happens near the ventricles in the center of the brain. A ventricles is a space in the brain that’s filled with fluid.
  • Necrotizing enterocoloitis (NEC). This is a problem with a baby’s intestines. It can cause feeding problems, a swollen belly and diarrhea. It sometimes happens 2 to 3 weeks after a premature birth.

Are there side effects?

Possible side effects of medicines like betamethasone and dexamethasone for mom may include fluid build-up in the body and increased blood pressure. There are no side effects for your baby.

If you’re at risk of giving birth early, talk to your provider about antenatal corticosteroids and how they may be able to help your baby. You can learn more about other treatments for preterm labor on our website. And all pregnant women should learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor. If you have even one sign or symptom, call your health care provider. If you’re having preterm labor, getting help quickly is the best thing to do.

Diabetes during pregnancy: a risk factor premature birth

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Diabetes is a serious health concern, especially when left untreated. About 9 out of 100 women in the U.S. have diabetes – a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. You can develop diabetes at any time in your life.

Seven out of every 100 pregnant women (7 percent) develop diabetes during pregnancy, also called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life.

Having diabetes or gestational diabetes can cause you to go into preterm labor, before 37 weeks gestation. Babies born this early can face serious health problems including long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Are you at risk?

You may be more likely than other women to develop gestational diabetes if:

  • You’re older than 25.
  • You’re overweight or you gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
  • You have a family history of diabetes. This means that one or more of your family members has diabetes.
  • You’re African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander. These ethnic groups are more likely to have gestational diabetes than other groups.
  • You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
  • In your last pregnancy, you gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds or was stillborn.

You can develop gestational diabetes even if you don’t have any of these risk factors. This is why your health care provider tests you for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

How do you know if you have gestational diabetes?

If you’re pregnant, you will get a glucose tolerance test at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, or earlier if your provider thinks you’re likely to develop gestational diabetes. You may have heard of other pregnant women having to drink an 8oz cup of a thick syrupy drink – this is part of the glucose tolerance test, along with measuring your blood glucose levels.

What else can you do?

If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider. Getting diabetes under control could help prevent preterm labor and premature birth. Being active, eating healthy foods that are low in sugar and losing weight may help reduce your chances of developing diabetes later in life.

Learn more about managing pre-existing diabetes and gestational diabetes.  And, as always, visit your health care provider before and during pregnancy.