National Prematurity Awareness Month: Celebrating Successes and Taking Action
About 1 in 10 babies are born before completing the normal 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy, missing out on the important growth and development that happens in the final weeks. Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive can have short- and long-term health problems.
November is National Prematurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to reflect on the nearly 400,000 babies born too early each year in the United States and what we can do to prevent it.
Although preterm birth rates rose slightly in 2015, it’s encouraging that the national rate of preterm birth declined 8 percent between 2007 and 2014. A recent CDC analysis published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) finds that fewer births to teens and young mothers in those years has translated to lower preterm birth rates.
- The 8 percent decline in the national preterm birth rate between 2007 and 2014 is related, in part, to teen pregnancy prevention and declines in unintended pregnancy.
- Increases in births to women ages 30 years or older, who have higher rates of preterm birth, lessened the overall decline in the preterm birth rate.
This report underscores that, because risk factors for preterm birth can vary by age, healthcare and public health professionals can work with women during each stage of their life to address risk factors for preterm birth. We can start by implementing effective public health strategies for reducing preterm birth rates, including preventing unintended pregnancy and improving access to preconception care to help women enter pregnancy as healthy as possible.