9 Risk factors for premature birth

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Experts don’t know why, but for woman who had conceived through IVF, they have an increased risk of delivering preterm.

All moms-to-be want to deliver healthy babies, but did you know that there are certain risk factors for preterm delivery?

There are risk factors such as diet and lifestyle, and then there are also insidious factors such as mom's genetics and her body chemistry.

Nevertheless, all pregnant women must be aware of these risk factors for her and her unborn child’s sake.

Here are nine of them, as offered by Julie Revelant in her Fox News report.

Personal history

According to Dr. Jill Hechtman, medical director of Tampa Obstetrics in Tampa, Florida, personal history of premature birth is one of the most significant risk factors for women.

Studies indicate that there’s a 30 to 50% chance of women undergoing a preterm birth if she had previously given birth to a preterm child.

Birth spacing

The chances of preterm birth increases if the birth between children are close together. According to a a study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, more than half of women who had gotten pregnant 12 months after giving birth delivered their subsequent baby before the 39th week.

“But the numbers do tell the story that for every month that you get closer to that 18 months in between pregnancies, the higher likelihood that you will have a healthy pregnancy,” said Dr. Scott D. Berns president and CEO of the National Institute for Children's Health Quality (NICHQ) in Boston, Massachusetts.

IVF

Experts don’t know the exact reason behind it, but for woman who had conceived through IVF, they have an increased risk of delivering preterm.

Twins or multiples

One of the most common complication of twin or multiple pregnancy is preterm birth.

According to organization March of Dimes, 50% percent of twins are premature, while for triplets, quadruplets, and higher number of multiples, the chance of preterm birth increases to 90%.

Shortened cervix

“Women who have a shortened cervix after undergoing the loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) procedure—which tests for pre-cancerous or abnormal cells—have an increased risk,” says Julie.

Depression

According to a study published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG), moms afflicted with depression both new and recurrent had up to 30 to 40% increased risk of preterm birth between the 32nd and 36th week.

Fathers’ depression can have an effect as well: there’s an increased risk of 38% in preterm birth when the father is depressed, studies suggest.

Underweight

While it’s common for pregnant women to gain weight during pregnancy, 21% of them do not actually reach the recommended weight, and being underweight increases the risk of preterm birth, says a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Infections

Infections, too, during pregnancy can risk preterm labor, especially such bacteria as mycoplasma and ureaplasma.

On the other hand, Group B streptococcus is a less common risk factor, says Dr. Jill Hechtman. Even if a pregnant woman tests positive for it later in the pregnancy, it will unlikely cause a preterm birth.

Air pollution

According to a study NYU Langone Medical Center, sixteen thousand preterm birth has been linked to air pollution in the United States alone. The areas most affected are urban counties where population is saturation.

READ: Paternal depression can cause premature birth, finds study

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