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Preventing Premature Birth

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A birth is premature when it happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. For babies, being born too soon can cause problems throughout their lives. The earlier in the pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he or she is to have problems. Sadly, prematurity and the health problems it can cause are a major cause of infant death in the United States and around the world. Dr. Cynthia Argani, director of Labor & Delivery, and Dr. Maureen Gilmore, director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Johns Hopkins Bayview, want you to know the risk factors of premature birth.

Are you at risk for preterm labor?

No one knows for sure what causes preterm labor. But there are things that may make you more likely than other women to start labor early. These are called risk factors. There are many risk factors for preterm labor, but these three make you most likely to have preterm labor:

  1. You’ve had a premature birth in the past.
  2. You’re pregnant with multiples (twins, triplets or more).
  3. You have problems with your uterus or cervix now or you’ve had problems in the past.

Other risk factors include smoking, infections, and not getting prenatal care. Learn about all the risk factors and talk to your obstetrics provider about what you can do to help reduce your risk for preterm labor.

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