Pre-term birth is considered any birth before 37 weeks. One in every eight babies in the United States is born prematurely. The consequences of prematurity include breathing problems, cerebral palsy, blindness, intestinal problems, and developmental delays in children. It is the number one cause of death in newborns as well.

Here are some of the risk factors:

After your first pregnancy, your OBGYN can infer your risks of delivering early. The following are the various scenarios:

  • If your first baby was at term, your risk is 4 percent.
  • If your first baby was pre-term, your risk is 17 percent.
  • If you’ve had two pre-term babies, your risk is 30 percent.

Other risks for pre-term delivery:

  • Infections of the kidney, appendix, genital tract
  • African American heritage (African American mothers are twice as likely to give birth prematurely than Caucasian mothers)
  • An abnormally shaped uterus or short cervix
  • Multiple gestation
  • Smoking, poor nutrition
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding in the second or third trimester
  • Use of fertility treatments

It is important to note that in most cases (more than half the time) the reason for pre-term births is unknown. It is a misfortune that can affect anyone at anytime. Don’t let information on the Internet make you paranoid however. There is no connection between a stressful job, exercise, or sex and a pre-term birth. If there’s something you read that makes you nervous or unsure, talk to your doctor.

For more information on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pre-term birth: read page 399 in The Mommy Docs’ Ultimate Guide To Pregnancy And Birth (Chapter 9 High Risk Pregnancies).