Premature Births: Something Worth Reducing

Prematurity takes a high toll on families, and imposes high costs to society. More babies die each year from causes related to prematurity than from any other single cause, and children born prematurely are much more likely to require extended hospital stays, and they run much higher risks of long-term health problems.

The United States produces the sixth highest number or preterm births in the world – after Indonesia and before Bangladesh. The United States is the only industrialized Western nation in the top ten in terms of preterm birth rates. 

The good news is that the premature birth rate in both the United States and Shelby County is falling each year. Expectant parents can, and have, reduced the risk of premature birth through healthy pregnancy practices, including regular prenatal care, and by avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Even more good news is that a large proportion of prematurely born babies can be saved with cost-effective interventions. Thus, by continuing to foster healthy development for our children, we can shape healthier lives for our most precious resource: our children.