Babies born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy are called premature or preterm. About 12 percent of babies in the United States are born preterm. All babies born preterm are at risk for serious health problems, but those born earliest are at greater risk of medical complications, long-term disabilities and death. Fortunately, advances in obstetrics and neonatology, the branch of pediatrics that deals with newborns, have improved the chances for survival for even these smallest babies.

Preterm labor/delivery is the number one obstetrical challenge in the U.S. accounting for substantial long-term disabilities such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing problems, and chronic lung disease.

HWCN fundraising benefits the ongoing research efforts of Dr. Ronald Librizzi, D.O., of Virtua’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Center, has made it his personal mission to prevent premature birth. With the creation of The Reproductive and Intrauterine Institute, Dr. Librizzi’s vision is to conduct research that may help doctors and families to one day predict the risk of preterm labor and miscarriage. Knowing the risks early on, doctors can work with expectant mothers to implement treatments that will reduce those risks, enabling babies to be nurtured longer within their mother’s womb, until they are ready to enter the world with a healthy start. The goal of the institute is to eliminate the heartache for couples experiencing multiple lost pregnancies by individualizing their future treatment and taking their babies to their due dates.

For more information check out these sites:

Resources:

CDC                          March of Dimes                    Mayo Clinic                   Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

Treatment

Premature babies: NYT, Health Guide       Medcscape