Fight Preterm Birth With Awareness

During November, individuals and organizations across the country are spreading awareness about premature births for Prematurity Awareness Month.  As part of honoring Prematurity Awareness Month, we would like to take a minute to thank all of the researchers, medical professionals and organizations around the world that dedicate their time and extraordinary effort to help prevent premature births and improve the lives of premature babies and their families.

Preterm birth occurs when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The premature birth rate in United States is about 9.6% – which translates to about 1 in 10 babies being born too soon.While some of these early arrivers will grow up to be healthy and unaffected by their preterm birth, many will not.  Preterm labor is often associated with more health problems that require an infant to stay in the hospital longer as well as long term health problems that could affect a baby for their whole life.2

Even though the percentage of premature births in the United States has decreased by 8% since 2007, premature birth is the biggest contributor to infant death.1 According to the March of Dimes, 2013 was the first time that preterm birth complications outranked all other causes as the world’s number one killer of young children.3

While researchers and medical caregivers have made major advances in studying and caring for premature births, the cause of preterm labor is still unknown in about half of the cases.4 This ongoing research has suggested that genetic factors may contribute to about 40% of preterm births, but we do not yet know which genes could be involved with this.4

ViaCord is proud to be partnering with Prentice Women’s Hospital in a pre-clinical research study to collect newborn stem cells from premature infants.  The use of newborn stem cells in the treatment of various conditions that are prevalent in premature children is currently being explored.  This study aims to establish the safety and feasibility of collecting cord blood and cord tissue stem cells from premature infants for potential medical use.  Understanding the volume and characteristics of newborn stem cells from premature infants can help guide this work.

REFERENCES

1. What is Premature Birth?(November 9, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/prematurebirth/
2. Premature babies.(October 2013). Retrieved from http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/premature-babies.aspx
3. World Prematurity Day. (October 2013). Retrieved from http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/world-prematurity-day.aspx
4. Finding the causes of prematurity. (October 2013). Retrieved from http://www.marchofdimes.org/research/finding-the-causes-of-prematurity.aspx

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