Late Preterm Births Increasing in U.S.

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The percentage of babies born preterm in the United States rose by more than 20 percent from 1990 to 2006 ...

... "Late preterm birth ... just before term at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation, have increased quite dramatically over the last decade and a half," ...

... Overall, the rate of preterm births increased from 6.8 to 8.1 percent, according to the report.

The number of late preterm births resulting from induced labor or cesarean delivery has also increased ... induced late preterm births more than doubled between 1990 and 2006, from 7.5 to 17.3 percent ... The percentage of late preterm births delivered by cesarean rose by 46 percent, from 23.5 to 34.3 percent.

... "Studies have found increases in later preterm deliveries that are medically indicated, but other studies have found that there are some late preterm deliveries that are happening where there do not appear to be any medical reasons for the delivery," ...

Improved technology has made identifying infants in distress easier, and that has also contributed to the increase ...

The rising rate of late preterm deliveries concerns health experts because the babies are not as healthy as babies delivered at full term ...

... "They are more likely to be delivered with respiratory problems. They have a higher death rate. They are more likely to have long-term neurological developmental problems, compared with infants delivered later."

... Facing a potential problem ... a doctor is inclined to deliver the baby rather than try to manage the problem in utero until the baby reaches full term.

But no infant should be delivered preterm unless there is a medical reason ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448