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What is Early Preterm Birth?

A normal pregnancy is of about 40 weeks duration. A baby born between weeks 32 and 37 of pregnancy is a preterm baby. An early preterm birth occurs when a baby is born before 32 weeks. Early preterm babies often have serious, long-term health problems. They may suffer from physical or mental disabilities that require special medical care.

Health Problems of Preterm Birth

The longer the baby is in the mother's womb, the more likely he or she will be healthy. Early preterm babies may have respiratory and digestive problems. They are also at a higher risk of brain and related neurological complications.

Treatment for Preterm Birth

Treatment is provided in the form of medications. Corticosteroid injections are given to speed the development of your baby's lungs and other organs. A delivery date can be extended by 2 to 7 days with drugs called tocolytics that work to slow or stop contractions of the uterus. The extra time gained can be used to take corticosteroids or to get to a hospital specialising in preterm care for babies.

Women at risk

Some women deliver an early premature baby for no apparent reason. However, certain factors may increase a woman's risk of early preterm birth. Some of them include lifestyle risks (for example smoking, drinking), a woman pregnant with multiples, chronic illnesses and a short time between pregnancies.

Allen OB/GYN

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