Premature labour is one of the most common problems in pregnancy and has also been proven to be a major cause of death in babies born without birth defects.
Premature babies are more delicate and can be afflicted with lifelong problems related to their prematurity.
Also known as Preterm Birth, Premature delivery occurs when babies are born before the developing organs mature enough to allow normal postnatal survival.
The term is generally used for babies of less than 37 completed weeks of gestational age.
According to experts, causes of premature births may not be readily known in many situations, however, there are some factors associated with the development of the condition, making its prevention quite challenging.
A medical officer at the Children’s Department of the Ridge Hospital in Accra, Frederick Boahen has revealed to The Globe that stress/depression is one of the major causes of early arrival of babies.
According to him, “stress triggers a lot of hormonal changes in expectant mothers, thereby ‘forcing’ the baby out before its due date”.
Boahen says premature babies have higher risks of contracting health problems.
The earlier a baby is born, the greater the risk of developing serious complications.
Babies born before 32 weeks are usually very small with less developed organs than those born later.
Fortunately, he added, that, advancement in obstetrics and neonatology have improved survival chances for even the smallest babies.
Also, premature infants are at a greater risk of short and long term health complications, including disabilities, growth impediments and mental health conditions.
Significant progress is said to have been made in the care of premature infants as well, but not much has been achieved in reducing the prevalence of premature birth which is a major cause of neonatal mortality.
Boahen advised that it is important for expectant mothers to know early enough, whether premature labour is occurring, as it can sometimes be stopped or delayed.
Early detection he says, can allow time to administer the necessary medication to treat conditions that may be responsible for premature labour.
Apart from Stress, Dr.
Boahen touches on other lifestyle factors that may increase the risk factors of premature labour.
They may include smoking, which is strongly discouraged during pregnancy.
Also, long hours of arduous tasks, can lead to preterm births.
Physical and emotional abuse, which according to Dr.
Boahen, may significantly raise stress levels, can affect unborn babies in a way that could result in premature delivery.
Other premature birth risk factors include fibroids, bleeding during second trimester, and abdominal surgery during pregnancy; common infections in the vagina, cervical, kidney or bladder infections.
Also underweight mothers stand the risk of having premature births.
Healthy eating habits however, can prevent one from being underweight.
Boahen urged expectant mothers to take regular ante-natal visits seriously so that abnormalities can be detected sooner than later.
He advised pregnant women to critically observe changes in their bodies and notify their doctors for diagnosis and treatment.
By: Vera Asokwa Ofori/Citifmonline.com