Many think of preterm birth as being an issue exclusive to developing nations, but it is also a significant problem for developed countries. The United States has one of the highest prematurity rates in the world. Dr. Craig Rubens, executive director of the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s Hospital, and a study author, says that, "Getting people and funders and policymakers to understand that is a huge burden.” The U.S. has half a million preterm babies each year, and in its annual “premature birth report card,” the March of Dimes gave the U.S. a “C” for its efforts in reducing prematurity. Researches also agree that we still have a lot to learn when it comes to the causes of preterm births. Chris Howson, vice president for global programs at the March of Dimes and a preterm birth researcher and study author, shares that “We don’t know the cause of 50% of all preterm births, and we still don’t fully understand the causes and mechanisms behind the other half.”
What research does show is that there are five interventions that have been shown to reduce the preterm birth rates:
1. Discouraging elective C-sections and labor inductions unless there’s a compelling medical reason.
2. Reducing the number of embryos transferred during fertility treatment.
3. Supporting pregnant women to give up smoking.
4. Providing women with high-risk pregnancies with progesterone supplementation.
5. Performing cervical cerclage, a minor surgical procedure, on pregnant women with short cervixes.