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Study: North Carolina doctors can do more to prevent early births

According to the March of Dimes' annual report on premature births, North Carolina and the nation as a whole have both received passing grades. Families in Greenville may be relieved to hear that our state is not at the bottom of the heap; however, there is much that can be done to improve the "C" grade North Carolina received by working to prevent pre-term births.

Overall, 11.7 percent of babies born in the United States were not carried to full term. Although this represents the fifth consecutive year that the national average has fallen, this year's figure is still more than two percentage points above the organization's target rate. Officials from the March of Dimes are encouraged by some of the improvements, saying that this may reduce instances of birth injury and other complications.

When babies are born too early, they are exposed to a whole host of health concerns that can permanently affect their quality of life. Fortunately, however, there are some steps medical providers can take to limit the risks associated with early birth. One primary area of focus is making sure that deliveries are not scheduled early without solid medical reasoning. If babies are born before 39 weeks, there is a greater chance that some critical organs -- including the brain and lungs -- will not be adequately developed.

Each week of pregnancy provides vital time for babies to develop healthily. As this study has found, unnecessarily scheduling births can lead to birth injuries and other health problems, which is something a number of doctors do in practice. Of course, there are justifications for inducing early labor, but that decision to do so should not be made lightly. The health of the mother and child may depend on it.

Source: Yadkin Ripple, "N.C. earn a "C" on birth report card," Nov. 26, 2012

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