I originally started my blog because I felt that the publics perception (both the general public and those in the medical field) regarding the long term impacts of prematurity was so far off from reality that it was damaging.
For years preemie parents, upon discharge from the NICU, have been told that their baby will be fine and will catch up to their peers by age 2 or 3. For most, this is not the truth. Besides the research, and having a preemie of my own, I have been a part of support groups for 9 years and have listened to countless parents ask, "why hasn't my baby caught up?". They have real concerns that are not being addressed by doctors and their family members begin to think they are neurotic. Over time relationships suffer, marriages end and the child eventually gets diagnosed with something that validates the parents original concerns.
There is a disconnect between the perception of life as a preemie and the reality.
It is simple. How many preemie stories have you heard of, in the mainstream media, where the parents of an older preemie are explaining what life is really like for their child? I'd be willing to guess that you haven't heard many.
This needs to change.
False perception is damaging.
Below you will find a media release about an interesting survey, that fits in with the focus of my blog, taken (with permission) from http://prematurityprevention.org/.
For immediate release
Jennifer Montgomery, (502) 418-6819; Jennifer@m2-maximummedia.com
Ali Shaw, (502) 262-8580; firstname.lastname@example.org
APPROXIMATELY 62% OF PREGNANT WOMEN SURVEYED IN SELECTED AREAS OF KENTUCKY DO NOT VIEW PRETERM BIRTH AS A PROBLEM
Findings in Contrast to Growing Crisis of Preterm Birth
FRANKFORT, KY, APRIL 22, 2008 — A survey among pregnant women receiving prenatal care in Ashland, Lexington, Louisville, Madisonville, Paducah and Somerset finds that approximately 62 percent felt that preterm birth was not a serious problem or indicated that they weren’t sure. The finding stands in sharp contrast to the fact that preterm birth is the number one cause of newborn death, and a leading cause of serious, lifelong disabilities.
The survey was conducted by Healthy Babies Are Worth the WaitR (HBWW), a three-year initiative and partnership of the March of Dimes, Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, and the Kentucky Department for Public Health, aimed at reducing the rate of preterm birth in selected areas of Kentucky.
“We’re quite disconcerted by this finding, especially since preterm babies, even those born just a few weeks early, have more complications, such as problems with breathing, feeding, and their neurological systems,” said Ruth Ann Shepherd, M.D., FAAP, director, Adult & Child Health Improvement, Kentucky Department for Public Health.
This survey finding also stands in contrast to the results from a 2006 March of Dimes national survey in which only 11 percent of women felt that preterm birth was not a serious problem or were unsure.1
The preterm birth rate in Kentucky is 14 percent, compared to the national rate of 12.7 percent. Between 1994 and 2004, the rate of infants born preterm in Kentucky increased more than 24 percent. Nationwide, the preterm birth rate has increased more than 30 percent since 1981.
In addition, 34 percent of women surveyed in these six selected areas of Kentucky smoked during the month before becoming pregnant, which is much more than the rate of smoking among childbearing-aged women in the US (20.6 percent).2
During pregnancy, approximately 22 percent of women surveyed in the six selected areas of Kentucky smoked, which is about twice the rate reported for the US as a whole.3 Pregnant smokers reported smoking anywhere from less than 1 cigarette per day to 2 packs per day. This represents a quit rate from preconception to pregnancy of about 35 percent, which is much lower than the average quit rate during pregnancy in the US of 46 percent.4 Less than 38 percent of the pregnant women reported that their health care provider had spoken to them about the importance of avoiding smoking during pregnancy. Smoking is a major risk factor for preterm birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and many other adverse health outcomes.
The purpose of the survey was to obtain up-to-date information on the knowledge, attitudes, and reported behaviors of pregnant women. The information will be used to: provide data about the needs of each of the communities to guide the HBWW Initiative, especially in the development of educational and media materials; and to help assess the impact of HBWW through a comparison of results before the initiative began and after it ends (the same survey will be repeated in 2009).
Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait R is helping Kentucky’s babies get the best possible start in life. Working with health care providers and community partners, the initiative helps moms-to-be get the care and information they need to increase the chance of having healthy, full-term pregnancies. It brings together the most current approaches for preventing preterm birth, as no single intervention is adequate to address the complex causes of this serious problem.
The goal is to reduce the rate of preventable preterm birth by 15 percent in the intervention areas. If successful, the interventions and lessons learned could make a difference if applied to other regions of the country with high rates of preterm birth. The initiative’s website, prematurityprevention.org, has sections filled with up-to-date information for pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant, health care professionals, and the general public.
For more information about Healthy Babies Are Worth the WaitR, log on to prematurityprevention.org.
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com, marchofdimesbaby.org or nacersano.org.
About the Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C
The Johnson & Johnson Pediatric Institute, L.L.C. (JJPI) is an education-based entity within Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions, which has a mission to make life-changing, long-term differences in human health by targeting the world's major health-related issues. Johnson & Johnson fulfills this mission, and other philanthropic efforts, through community-based partnerships. Healthy Babies Are Worth the Wait is among programs Johnson & Johnson supports that focus on a key strategy of saving and improving the lives of women and children. For more information please visit www.jnj.com. Educational materials for use by physicians or parents are available at www.jjpi.com.
About the Kentucky Department for Public Health
The Department for Public Health (DPH) is a part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Through its expansive services, DPH reaches thousands of Kentuckians each year by developing and operating all public health programs and activities for the citizens of Kentucky. These health service programs are aimed at prevention, detection, care and treatment of physical disabilities, illness and disease. More information about DPH can be found at chfs.ky.gov/dph.
1 March of Dimes. (2006). National Brand Study. White Plains, NY: Author. Childbearing age is defined as 18-44.
2 Peristats, March of Dimes. (2007). http://www.peristats.com
3 CDC. (2004). Smoking during pregnancy. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, 53, 911-915.
4 Coleman, GJ & Joyce, T. (2003) Trends in smoking before, during, and after pregnancy in ten states. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24, 29-35.