Did you know that November is Prematurity Awareness Month? Did you know that prematurity is more prevalent among African-American women? Read on the find out more about this topic and the testimony of one of our Metropolitan families.
Our lives were changed forever when two years ago our daughter was born via emergency C-section, 12 weeks early at 28-week gestation and weighing less than 2 lbs. Our daughter spent 11.5 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), andwhile she is doing well now, prematurity issues can linger for a lifetime. Despite our education and access to high-quality health care, we knew nothing about the challenges of prematurity and its prevalence in the black community before ourdaughter’s premature birth. As World Preemie Day approaches on November 17, we wish to do our part to bring awareness to this important issue and promote efforts to give babies a healthy start.
Here are few facts about prematurity:
- Any birth before 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature.
- Over ten percent (1 in 9) babies are born premature in the U.S.
- Premature births have increased 36 percent in the last 25 years.
- Prematurity is the #1 cause of death among newborns.
- Annual medical cost associated with premature birth is $26.2 billion.
- Greatest risk factors for preterm birth:
o Previous history of preterm birth
o Being Black.
Why it matters to the Black community:
- Black women have the highest rate of preterm birth in the U.S..
- 18% of all babies born to Black women in the U.S. are premature – 1.5 times the percentage of preterm birth among Caucasian women.
- No correlation found between socio-economic status (SES) and access to health care, and likelihood of premature birth among black women.
- Black babies are almost 2.5 times more likely than Caucasian babies to be born very premature – that is, before 32 weeks gestation.
- Health complications – including lifelong ones – increase in likelihood the earlier and smaller a preemie is born.
Here are just a few of the consequences of prematurity:
- Survival rates are much higher now, but preterm babies are more likely to have long-term health problems, such as:
o Cognitive, social, and emotional developmental disabilities and delays
o Respiratory issues, including asthma
o Cerebral palsy
What can we do about it?
- Be aware, which is the first step to change.
- Share this information.
- Get regular and early prenatal care.
- Seek culturally competent healthcare providers.
- Know the signs of preterm labor and seek immediate medical attention if you (or a loved one) are experiencing them.
For more information, please visit any of the sources below, which were relied on for the information shared in this piece.
Mr. & Mrs. Dexter Conley and Denise Robinson
“Prematurity Campaign.” MarchofDimes.com. Web. Accessed October 23, 2014. <http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/prematurity-campaign.aspx >
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway. “Minority Women are at Greatest Risk for Having Premature Babies.” Drsforamerica.org. February 18, 2011. Web. http://www.drsforamerica.org/blog/minority-women-are-at-greatest-risk-for-having-premature-babies
Monique Blair and Carol Eliadi. “Preventing Premature Birth Disparities.” MinorityNurse.com. Fall 2009. Web. http://www.minoritynurse.com/article/preventing-premature-birth-disparities