The Effects of Preterm Birth

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  • Topic: Childbirth, Cervix, Preterm birth
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  • Published : June 3, 2012
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The Effects of Preterm Birth
Dannette Taylor
University of Phoenix

Preterm birth can be a devastating experience not only for the mother, but also for the child. This issue has plagued the United States and other countries for many years, and no concrete evidence have been found to tell us why preterm birth occurs. One in eight babies in the United States is born premature each year. The impact of social support on the psychological well-being, attitudes, and behavior of parents is rapidly becoming a major issue. It is becoming more and more difficult for mothers to cope with the long-term and short-term effects of premature birth. These parents’ attitude and behavior can have both a direct and indirect effect on the child's development.

There are many risk associated with premature birth and there have been many preventative measures put into place to keep mothers informed of the effects of premature birth. These risk can range from previous premature birth, multiple pregnancy, (carrying twins or multiples) uterine and cervical problems, chronic high blood pressure, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. Premature birth has been so much of an issue that scientists are working feverishly to figure out who is most at risk, how to diagnose preterm labor sooner rather than later, and how to prevent birth when the mother goes into labor early. Though their research efforts are not in vain, there still is no concrete cause for premature. Many studies have been arranged to narrow down the cause of preterm birth, but as it still stands today there are many different reasons for preterm delivery.

The short and long-term effects that premature babies can suffer from are heartbreaking to say the least. Babies often suffer from intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) vision and hearing loss, and also breathing problems. Psychologically this can affect the parent causing them to feel that they are at fault or that they could have done something to prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, even though a parent may feel this way, in most cases there is not anything that the parent could have done differently. In most cases, mothers have no idea that they are even at risk for premature birth until they experience warning signs of labor, and usually at that point it is too late to prevent the birth. It continues to be a challenge to measure the behaviors of mothers with accuracy because of the complexity of the situation such as being able to recall past activities like exercise and eating habits. The challenge is especially difficult for women who are pregnant. The fact that it is more difficult for mothers to recall accurately this history leaves the potential for a distorted recall of these behaviors after pregnancy. Memories can become even more distorted after pregnancy because of the time lapse and a mother's inability to correctly recall their behaviors. Also, the decisions about these behaviors that women make render them highly susceptible to confounding, in which any true causal effects of the behavior of interest on preterm birth are distorted by the association of that behavior with antecedent factors like socioeconomic conditions or with other behaviors. (Behrman and Butler 2007)

These factors can be linked to things such as cigarette smoking, alcohol use, illicit drug use, and nutrition. These habits can present harmful to the body in healthy individuals, and being pregnant magnifies the situation by passing these harmful chemicals on to your fetus. These socioeconomic conditions have been directly linked to a higher risk of preterm birth.

I have also found from personal experience of delivering a child preterm myself that poor prenatal care is another issue that can play a major role in preterm birth. My psychological issue with the time that I became pregnant was the fact that I was in denial. I believe that there was a possibility that I could be pregnant, but I also knew that...
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