Early pregnancy can lead to preterm birth and other complications: HCFI

4:59 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community

Awareness and education among young girls need of the hour

New Delhi, 19th May 2019: According to a recent study that analysed data from India, teen pregnancies contribute to under-nutrition in babies.[1] It indicates that children born to adolescent mothers (10-19 years) were 5 percentage points more likely to be stunted (shorter for their age) than those born to young adults (20-24 years). They are also likely to be 11 percentage points more stunted than children born to adult mothers.

The study said that lower education levels among adolescent mothers had the strongest impact on stunting levels, followed by socioeconomic status. Teen mothers were also likely to be underweight, exacerbating the stunting among their children. The need of the hour is to educate young girls and others in rural areas on outcomes of bearing children at an early age.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “A premature birth is one that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A baby born prematurely has less time to develop in the womb and often has complicated medical problems. Many preterm babies who survive suffer from various disabilities like cerebral palsy, sensory deficits, learning disabilities and respiratory illnesses. The morbidity often extends to later life, causing physical, psychological, and economic stress to the individual and the family. Preterm babies are small in size, sharper looking and have a disproportionately large head, less rounded features than a full-term baby, fine hair covering much of the body and low body temperature.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “While preterm births cannot be attributed to one particular reason, the predisposing risk factors include age at pregnancy; previous preterm birth; multiple pregnancies; infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure; stress; genetic factors and nutritional disorders. Lifestyle is increasingly becoming an important factor for preterm births.”

Identification of risk factors and educating pregnant women about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor during antenatal care can prevent preterm births. Here are some measures women can take to avert the risk of preterm delivery.

  • Do not miss antenatal care This is the best way to avert any preterm labor and identify signs. The doctor should be able to advice on how to eat right, what is the ideal weight, and what can be harmful for the baby.
  • Understand your risks Some women are at more at risk of delivering early. This is truer for those who have had a prior preterm delivery; who smoke or drink; have pre-existing health problems, etc. Understanding these can help you cope better.
  • Watch your weight Find out how much weight gain is apt for your body type and the baby. Too much weight gain can also cause complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Talk to your doctor about the recommended weight and eat accordingly. Ask your doctor about a healthy exercise plan.
  • Eat right Consume a nutritious diet as it is vital to the development of the fetus. Whole-wheat carbs, healthy sources of protein and dairy, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables is key. Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other non-prescribed drugs.

Comments are closed.