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Rushing Birth Even A Little Can Hurt Babies' Health

Rushing Birth Even A Little Can Hurt Babies' Health - Babies born even a little shy of the full 39-week mark for gestation may still suffer health trouble, including breathing and feeding problems. A 2005 estimate put the U.S. cost of premature births at $26 billion.

You can't be just a little bit pregnant, but you can have a baby who's born just a little bit too early. Too often, however, women who decide to induce labor a week or two before they reach full term don’t realize that rushing the delivery date by even a few weeks may hurt their newborns and, possibly, their pocketbooks.

Rushing Birth Even A Little Can Hurt Babies' Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data recently showing that in 2009 the preterm birth rate declined, for the third year in a row, to 12.18 percent of all births. Still, preterm birth is one of the reasons the infant mortality rate in the United States exceeds other developed countries.

But the preterm birth rate—defined as babies born before 37 weeks gestation—doesn't tell the whole story. Babies born even a little shy of the 39-week mark may still suffer health trouble, including breathing and feeding problems, says Dr. Scott Berns, a pediatrician who is a senior vice president at the March of Dimes.

In addition to the health toll, premature births in 2005 cost the country at least $26 billion, or more than $51,600 per infant born early, according to the March of Dimes. Families often bear much of the burden. Some who think they have insurance coverage can be surprised to learn that even when choosing a hospital that is in their insurance network, some costs for neonatal intensive care units will not be covered.

Rushing Birth Even A Little Can Hurt Babies' Health

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