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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
What causes prematurity?
There are many factors that come into play when a baby is born prematurely. Some directly cause early labor and birth, while others can make the mother or baby sick and require early delivery. The following factors may contribute to a premature birth:
Factors involving the pregnancy:
Factors involving the fetus:
Why is prematurity a concern?
Premature babies are born before their bodies and organ systems have completely matured. These babies are often small, with low birthweight (less than 5 pounds), and they may need help breathing, eating, fighting infection and staying warm. Very premature babies who are born before 28 weeks, are especially vulnerable. Many of their organs may not be ready for life outside the mother's uterus and may be too immature to function well.
Some of the problems premature babies may experience include:
How can I prevent prematurity?
Because of the tremendous advances in the care of sick and premature babies, more and more babies are surviving despite being born early and being very small. But prevention of early birth is the best way of promoting good health for babies.
Prenatal care is a key factor in preventing preterm births and low birthweight babies. At prenatal visits, the health of both mother and fetus can be checked. Because maternal nutrition and weight gain are linked with fetal weight gain and birthweight, eating a healthy diet and gaining weight in pregnancy are essential. Prenatal care is also important in identifying problems and lifestyles that can increase the risks for preterm labor and birth. Some ways to help prevent prematurity and to provide the best care for premature babies may include the following:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”