A May 2012 report by the World Health Organization, states that nearly 15 million babies are born prematurely every year around the globe. According to the report more than one million of those babies die while a large number suffer permanent physical, neurological or developmental disability.
Surprisingly, the United States ranks 6th among all countries in terms of the number of premature births each year. This is about 12% of all births or more than one in nine births. That is a higher rate than in Europe, Canada, Australia or Japan and a number of less developed countries, too. Suspected reasons for the large number includes the increase in the number of older women having babies, more fertility drug use, and rising multiple pregnancy rates.
State Grades: Michigan, Ohio and other Midwestern states score at average level; Washington DC below average
The March of Dimes also recently released their annual Premature Birth Report Card that grades the rates of premature births in individual states. Babies are considered premature if they are born prior to 37 weeks gestation. Only one state – Vermont- received an “A” grade for its low rate (9.3%) of preterm births. Michigan (12.4%), Ohio (12.3%) and 17 other states received “C” grades while Washington DC (14.2%) and 11 other states received “D” grades. Grades for each state can be accessed through the March of Dimes website.
Risk factors and treatment
While specific causes for preterm birth is difficult to identify, there are a number factors that contribute to the risk of having a preterm baby. They include:
- twin/multiple pregnancy
- maternal infection
- cervical problems
- short cervix
- incompetent cervix
- uterus or placental problems
- high blood pressure
Effective treatments to avoid premature preterm delivery include: cerclage (a stitch put into the cervix to hold it closed), bedrest, antibiotics for infections, and medications including progesterone and tocolytics. Steroids for fetal lung maturity should also be given with threatened pre-term delivery. Correct and adequate treatment can avoid preterm delivery and the risks to the baby of intracranial bleeding, mental retardation and cerebral palsy.
Due to the frequency of this obstetrical emergency, hospitals and health care professionals must have plans in place to recognize risk factors and provide the appropriate treatment. If they fail to do so, they may be negligent.
Regardless of whether you reside in Michigan, Ohio, and Washington DC or elsewhere in the United States, if your child was born premature and has now been diagnosed with neurological, physical or developmental disabilities including learning problems, cerebral palsy, developmental delays or birth defects, you may be entitled to compensation. Email Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers or call us at 1-888-419-BABY for free advice.