What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Premature Birth?

Premature birth is a major cause of infant mortality worldwide, and it is important to understand the causes and risk factors associated with it. Preterm birth can be caused by a variety of factors, including preterm birth in the past, multiple pregnancies, smoking and substance abuse, and short time between pregnancies. In addition, pregnancy complications can lead to premature birth as the baby must be born early. There may also be a genetic influence.

More research is needed to determine the exact causes and mechanisms of preterm birth, but some of the known risk factors include multiple pregnancies, infections, chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and certain medical conditions that only occur during pregnancy. Taking aspirin daily starting in the first trimester may help reduce the risk of preterm labor and delivery. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed guidelines to help reduce the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, including preterm births. These guidelines include advice on a healthy diet, optimal nutrition, and avoiding tobacco and other substances; fetal measurements; and a minimum of 8 contacts with health professionals during pregnancy.

Getting adequate and timely prenatal care is also essential for reducing the chances of having a preterm birth. If a woman has a premature birth or is at risk of having one, treatments are available to help protect the premature baby from future neurological disorders, breathing difficulties, and infections. Though premature birth remains a leading cause of infant death worldwide, thanks to advances in care for mothers and newborns, survival rates for premature babies have improved. Knowing the causes and risk factors associated with preterm birth can help women take steps to reduce their risk.

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