Pregnancy is a normal state of life for women and causes significant changes in their bodies, but not everyone can carry the pregnancy to term. Preterm birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, or full term. Premature babies are at risk for long-term health problems and disabilities.
What Causes Premature Birth?
Both genetic and behavioral factors influence a woman’s risk of preterm delivery. The risk also varies depending on the mother’s health, social conditions, and medical circumstances. High blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for preterm delivery. When you have high blood pressure, the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is greatly increased. This causes your blood pressure to become abnormally high. This can affect the amount of blood and oxygen pumped by your heart, contributing to preterm birth.
Smoking increases your risk of premature birth by causing damage to your lungs and other organs. Smoking also affects your baby’s development during pregnancy, causing the baby to be born earlier than expected. You can reduce your risk of premature birth by quitting smoking while pregnant.
Your baby may be born too soon if you have diabetes before pregnancy or develop it when pregnant. Diabetes is a disease where your body does not produce enough insulin to break down the sugar in your blood. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop an infection of the amniotic sac, called an amniotic infection. This can cause painful contractions and lead to preterm labor.
Complications Related to Premature Birth
Premature birth can cause several complications. Babies born too soon may not be properly prepared to breathe air, which causes many complications. This places their lungs under the greatest pressure and causes damage to the lungs. They have higher rates of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).
The babies may also develop a condition called periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which is an injury to the brain’s white matter, which is responsible for thinking and memory. Additionally, they are at risk of developing serious blood disorders. The medicine given to preemies to help their lungs function can also prevent them from producing certain types of blood cells.
Preterm birth is caused by genetic and behavioral factors, including smoking, diabetes, and hypertension. Stopping smoking and improving your diet while pregnant can help reduce your chances of a premature birth.
Do you have more questions about preventing preterm birth while pregnant in Salem Oregon? Talk to our staff at WFMC Health or become a new patient today!