Slight Setback in Tennessee as Premature Births Rise
“It used to be pretty common for women, who were just tired of being pregnant, and they would go and ask the doctor at 36, 37-weeks if they could go ahead and induce,” says Toothman. “A lot of times, the doctors would say that it’s okay. So we’ve pretty much put a stop to that in Tennessee.”
The March of Dimes is leading the campaign to reduce the nation’s preterm birth rate, with a goal of 9.6 percent or less by 2020.
Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death. Babies who survive often face the risk of serious and sometimes lifelong health issues. Toothman says that’s why every extra day in the womb is important.
“There’s a lot of lung, heart and brain development that happens between 34 and 39 weeks that people just don’t know about,” he says. “So it’s very important and we’re really proud of the campaign and we are making progress in Tennessee.”
Often, the specific cause of premature birth isn’t clear, but factors that may increase the risk include smoking, some infections and some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.