Prevention of Pre-term Birth 

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The rate of premature birth in the United States is a bit surprising given the current state of medicine. ACOG has claimed the rate of premature births has "changed little over the last 40 years," it has in fact increased by 5.4% between 1967 and 2002, from 6.7 to 12.1 percent. Though it hasn't led to an increase in the infant mortality rate, except in 2001 to 2002 (which is a first since 1958), it is still the number one cause of neonatal mortality and the second leading cause of infant mortality.

For the last 25 years, a prematurity prevention program has been developed and implemented. It teaches patients, who have been identified as at-risk for premature labor, how to monitor their uterine contractions. When it is necessary, the patients are provided with supplemental intramuscular progesterone and tocolytic therapy is used in treating contractions. Antibiotic therapies as well as ultrasound assessments are also provided appropriately.

The process is extremely thorough and can be effective in decreasing the rate of premature birth. Studies indicate that the program lowered the premature birth rate by 5 percent, from 12 to 7 percent. Within that 7 percent, only 1.3 percent were affected before the 34th week of gestation, three times lower than normal.