Premature Birth Delivery Risk Increases In Extremely Hot Or Cold Areas

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald September 02, 06:21 am
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There are several risk factors for women's preterm labor and birth. A new study found that living in areas with extremely hot or cold temperatures can increase pregnant women's premature birth delivery risk during the first seven months of her pregnancy.

A research team at the National Institutes of Health found that extreme heat is more consistently linked with preterm birth than extreme cold. This is because cold temperature can push people to seek shelter or measures to escape the chill. People are more likely to endure the heat, especially when air conditioning cannot be easily and readily accessed.

Exposure to extreme heat during pregnancy is linked to a six percent preterm birth risk at 34 weeks, and a 21 percent increased risk at 36 to 38 weeks. Researchers believe that the stress of extreme temperatures impedes or hinders the placenta's development or alters blood flow to the uterus, which then leads to early labor and preterm birth.

A preterm birth occurs before a woman reached her 37th week of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is between 39 and 40 weeks.

Babies born prematurely have higher risks of infant death and long-term health disabilities such as vision and hearing impairments, breathing and feeding difficulties, and developmental delays like cerebral palsy, autism, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, muscular dystrophy, and Tourette syndrome, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed. Preterm birth usually occurs in women who have delivered prematurely before, those pregnant with twins, triplets, or more, and women with problems in their reproductive organs (e.g. short cervix), the National Institutes of Health listed.

Other risk factors of preterm birth are high blood pressure, sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, vaginal bleeding, underweight or overweight conditions before pregnancy, diabetes, smoking, drinking alcohol, drug use, stress, long periods of standing in workplaces, and exposure to environmental pollutants. African-American mothers are 50 percent more likely to have a preterm birth, as well as women younger than 18 years old and older than 35.

Shorter gaps between pregnancies, in vitro fertilization, and inadequate weight gain during conception increase preterm birth risk, too, WFMJ reported. Experts advised women to wait for at least a year and allow their uterus to recover before getting pregnant again

Pregnant women should also attain at least 25 to 35 pounds for those with normal weight. Overweight women should aim for 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy, while obese women should have an 11 to 20-pound weight gain.

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