A study found that the rate of premature births in the United States is on the rise, but the reasons remain a mystery

A study found that the rate of premature births in the United States is on the rise, but the reasons remain a mystery


The rate of premature births has risen in the United States, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Potentially creating more health problems for infants and mothers.

The report, published this week, found that the rate of premature births – those at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy – rose by 12% between 2014 and 2022, from 7.74% to 8.67%.

The increase was relatively constant across the board, regardless of age or race, although black and Latina mothers were more likely to give birth prematurely than whites. Older mothers are also generally more likely to give birth prematurely than younger mothers.

Babies born prematurely can have short-term health problems such as infection control problems or breathing and stomach problems because they are not fully developed and will need to stay in the hospital longer. In the long term, premature babies may develop asthma, dental problems, hearing loss, stomach problems, and concerns such as intellectual and developmental delays, according to the March of Dimes. Pregnant women can also develop health problems if they give birth early.

CDC researchers looked at data from birth certificates that recorded single births registered in the United States from 2014 to 2022.

However, they did not speculate what it could be Lead the trend. In general, doctors don’t really know why some people give birth prematurely, although some conditions and factors seem to increase the risk.

“I really wish we knew. “I think this increase is quite striking,” said Dr. Caitlin Stanhope, an assistant professor at Emory University whose research focuses on the effects of stress on women’s health and pregnancy. “It’s a trend that’s been happening for a long time. The study dates back to 2014, but premature births have been rising in the United States for much longer than that.

Stanhope, who was not involved in the new research, He said the trend of people having children later in life could have an impact on the numbers, as could the increase in the number of people having children through in vitro fertilisation, both factors that could be linked to an increased risk of premature birth. But Stanhope doesn’t think this fully explains what’s happening.

It could be an environmental thing, she said, because the increase across race and age may involve something everyone experiences. This may include exposure to particulate matter pollution, which other studies have shown can increase premature births.

Psychosocial stressors such as chronic stress, anxiety, lack of support, unstable housing, and malnutrition can also increase a woman’s risk of giving birth prematurely.

“It’s definitely a multifactorial thing,” said Dr. Ellie Ragsdale, a specialist in obstetrics, gynecology and maternal fetal medicine at University Hospitals in Cleveland, who was not involved in the CDC report. “My initial reaction to the study is that premature birth rates continue to rise in this country because Americans globally, as a whole, are getting sicker.”

An increasing number of people suffer from obesity, This can lead to health problems that can increase the risk of premature birth, Ragsdale noted. More than 1 in 4 women in the United States are overweight, and more than 2 in 5 adults — 42.4% of the U.S. population — are obese, according to the National Institutes of Health. People who are obese are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions such as preeclampsia that can lead to premature birth.

Dr. Manisha Gandhi, chair of the Clinical Practice Guidelines-Obstetrics Committee of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, does not believe this trend is related to doctors being inducted too early. She added that medical guidelines strongly discourage this practice, and that these numbers have been decreasing over the years. Gandhi also does not believe that this is due to some biological changes that would shorten the duration of pregnancy.

She says the Covid-19 pandemic may have affected the rate.

the people Studies have shown that women infected with Covid face a greater risk of premature birth. Many of them have also postponed medical appointments during the pandemic, which may affect their overall health.

To reduce the chances of premature birth, it is important for people to make their health a priority before becoming pregnant, Gandhi said.

“Pregnancy is not the time to start losing weight, controlling blood pressure or working on diabetes,” she said. “Ideally, we would arrange these things before pregnancy, because there is not enough time to improve our health when you are already pregnant.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly defined preterm birth. Premature birth occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy.

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