WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Even though one in eight babies in the United States are born preterm each year, most new or expectant mothers and their doctors don't discuss preterm birth, a new survey shows.
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Conducted by the March of Dimes and BabyCenter, the poll included more than 1,000 participants, including new or expectant mothers, mothers who've experienced preterm birth and their obstetricians/gynecologists.
Despite the fact that prior preterm birth is a major risk factor for delivering another baby prematurely, nearly 40% of women who had a previous preterm delivery were not informed of this by their doctors.
"If you've had a preterm birth, talk to your doctor because the greatest risk factor for having a preterm baby is if you've already had had one," said Dr. Alan Fleischman, March of Dimes medical director. "Our survey found that a lot of moms don't feel informed about preterm birth's risk factors and potential consequences."
"Early prenatal care, including reviewing medical history and lifestyle habits, is an opportunity to give babies a better chance of a healthy, full-term birth," said Fleischman. "Therefore, having that conversation about preterm birth should take place early enough so the mom-to-be can address any modifiable risk factors, and treat any health conditions that may put her or her baby at increased risk."
The survey also found that more than two-thirds of new and expectant mothers did not know the correct definition of preterm birth (less than 37 weeks of completed weeks of gestation), and one-third weren't able to pinpoint risk factors associated with preterm birth.
Among the other findings:
- Only 15% of mothers who had experienced preterm birth discussed preterm delivery with their doctor before the second semester, and nearly 40% didn't know they were at risk for a subsequent preterm birth.
- Less than half of new or expectant mothers said they felt very informed about symptoms of preterm labor, and even fewer felt very informed about lifelong consequences.
- Among obstetricians/gynecologists, most cited the lack of preterm birth prevention options as a challenge in broaching the topic of preterm delivery with patients, and more than half cited concern about causing undue fear or worry.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: March of Dimes, news release, June 30, 2010