November is National Prematurity Awareness Month. In 2022, 1 in 10 babies was born too early in the United States. WIC staff can help raise awareness and inform WIC participants of the risk factors and what they can do to reduce the chance of premature birth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers information and resources about preterm birth, including a downloadable PDF about the growth of a baby throughout pregnancy, frequently asked questions that include a list of activities to do (or stop doing) to lower the risk of preterm birth, warning signs of preterm labor, and more.
Information and Risk Factors
A premature (or preterm) birth occurs when a baby is born before 37 weeks of completed pregnancy (the ideal gestation period is 40 weeks). Important growth and development of the baby happens throughout pregnancy, including the final weeks leading up to birth. Babies who are born prematurely may have an increased chance of experiencing breathing problems, feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and vision and hearing problems.
While a premature birth can happen when no known risk factors are present, some risk factors for preterm birth include delivering a premature baby in the past, being pregnant with multiples, tobacco and substance use, and a short amount of time between pregnancies (less than 18 months). Pregnancy complications can also result in a preterm birth.
To reduce the risk of preterm birth, WIC staff can provide information about planning for pregnancy.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provides a variety of pages with specific information about premature birth, including:
- General Information
- Risk Factors
- At-Risk Populations
- And More
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers information about Caring for a Premature Baby.