Premature Births Behind One Third of Infant Deaths

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Roxanna Haynes
October 2, 2006

New mom Tameka Smith welcomes her first child into the world. Smith's baby is healthy and she says she took many precautions while pregnant.

Tameka Smith, a proud new mom, said, "It's important to eat well-balanced meal. Keep every doctors appointment."

Not every mother and baby are as lucky.

“We don't know exactly what causes pre-term births."

But scientists now say a third of infant deaths are due to premature births. Previously, pre-term birth had been listed as the cause of death in fewer that 20 percent of newborn fatalities.

Doctors say they hope these revised statistics will prevent pregnant women from taking actions that can cause pre-term births such as smoking and drug use.

Dr. Danielle McFarland with the Valdosta Women's Health Center said, "To identify risk factors that do exist so that we can work to hopefully improve those and potentially decrease the risk for pre-term delivery for the patients.”

But take it from a new mom who knows, "Make sure you take your pre-natal vitamins, go to every doctor's appointment, do not smoke, do not drink and you should have a health baby."

The main reason these statistics have gone up is doctors say at least a dozen causes of newborn deaths go hand in hand with premature births, such as respiratory distress and brain hemorrhage.

Doctors add that this new study may help organizations like the March of Dimes lobby for more federal research in pre-term labor and delivery.