Causes and Risk Factors - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

Although the cause of preterm birth is often unknown, expectant parents need not leave it purely to chance. There are a number of things a potential or expectant mother should and should NOT do, to limit the chances of preterm birth.


Healthy mother, healthy baby

The cause/s of preterm birth may be due to a number of very different events or triggers. Although there are a lot of risks identified there are no good predictors of preterm birth. This section is intended to give you a guide and a better understanding of the risks, some of which are easier to avoid than others depending on your personal circumstances.
Preemie help is here to help you identify any factors you may be able to avoid.


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Maternal weight Loss

Pregnancy is not the time to try and lose weight

Weight Loss & Pregnancy

Research has found that low weight gain during pregnancy is a much stronger risk factor of early preterm birth than obesity. Maternal short stature, low pre-pregnancy body mass index, and low rate of weight gain during pregnancy may lead to shortened gestation by increasing the risk of spontaneous preterm labour. Maternal thinness is associated with decreased blood volume and reduced uterine blood flow, potentially restricting fetal growth development. Additionally, women with low serum concentrations of iron, folate, or zinc have more preterm births and are associated with decreased blood flow and increased maternal infections.

(R. L. Goldenberg, et al., 2008; Neggers & Goldenberg, 2003; Nohr, et al., 2007; Schieve et al., 2000; Tamura, Goldenberg, Johnston, Cliver, & Hoffman, 1997)

Technical Reference List

Goldenberg, R. L., Culhane, J. F., Iams, J. D., & Romero, R. (2008). Epidemiology and causes of preterm birth. Lancet, 371(9606), 75-84.
Neggers, Y., & Goldenberg, R. L. (2003). Some thoughts on body mass index, micronutrient intakes and pregnancy outcome. J Nutr, 133(5 Suppl 2), 1737S-1740S.
Nohr, E. A., Bech, B. H., Vaeth, M., Rasmussen, K. M., Henriksen, T. B., & Olsen, J. (2007). Obesity, gestational weight gain and preterm birth: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 21(1), 5-14.
Schieve, L. A., Cogswell, M. E., Scanlon, K. S., Perry, G., Ferre, C., Blackmore-Prince, C., et al. (2000). Prepregnancy body mass index and pregnancy weight gain: associations with preterm delivery. The NMIHS Collaborative Study Group. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 96(2), 194-200.
Tamura, T., Goldenberg, R. L., Johnston, K. E., Cliver, S. P., & Hoffman, H. J. (1997). Serum concentrations of zinc, folate, vitamins A and E, and proteins, and their relationships to pregnancy outcome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand Suppl, 165, 63-70.



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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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