Newborn Danica Camacho, the Philippines' symbolic seven billionth baby, as part of the United Nations' seven billion global population projection, lies on her mother's chest in the Fabella Maternity hospital in Manila, Oct. 31, 2011. (AP)
TOPEKA – Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation declaring November as Prematurity Awareness Month in the State of Kansas. Along with the Governor, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) wants to see that women have healthy pregnancies, get early prenatal care and support services, learn about safe sleep and make choices that promote healthy lifestyles for a lifetime.
Prematurity has steadily risen over the past two decades. One out of eight babies is born prematurely in the United States. Preterm birth is defined as a live birth before 37 completed weeks gestation. Babies born too soon are often born too small.
Compared to other babies, preterm babies are more likely to face lifelong health problems or even to die in the first month of life, especially if they are born very preterm (less than 32 weeks gestation).
According to the March of Dimes 2010 National Premature Birth Report Card (comparing each state’s rate of premature birth to the nation’s objective of 7.6 percent or less by 2010), Kansas received a “C” for its preterm birth rate of 11.2 percent.
In 2009 in Kansas:
1 in 11 babies was born preterm.
Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of preterm births increased nearly 5 percent.
Compared with singleton births (1 baby), multiple births were about 8 times more likely to be preterm in 2009
Every pregnant woman should be considered at risk of preterm birth. Around the 20th week of pregnancy, all pregnant women should learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor and what they can do if they occur.
To help prevent preterm birth, women should:
Know the warning signs of preterm labor
Get regular prenatal checkups
Quit smoking, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs
Avoid secondhand smoke
Call a healthcare provider if she feels burning or pain when urinating (possible sign of an infection that can increase the risk of preterm birth).
Over the next several weeks, KDHE will join March of Dimes Greater Kansas Chapter and members of the Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality, in efforts to increase public awareness and education about prematurity, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), safe sleep, and other issues related to the high infant mortality rate in Kansas.
“I ask you to join us in the effort to promote awareness about prematurity and its outcomes as well as support early and regular prenatal care to reduce risks for preterm delivery,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer.