Published on June 29, 2017

What is a preterm birth?

Preterm birth is defined as a birth before 37 weeks gestation. One of the reasons GrassrootsHealth has created a field trial around pregnancy and preterm birth is very specific – there is a defined time frame and babies either are or are not preterm.

What is the harm of a preterm birth?

To start, preterm birth is cited as the reason for 28% of newborn deaths (first month of life).

Secondly, full-term babies stay in utero for 40 weeks in order to complete development. The earlier a baby is born, the more likely they are to have health problems. Some of these problems don’t show up right away, they may not appear until age 3, or even adulthood.

Longer-term problems include ADHD, cerebral palsy, autism, asthma, intestinal problems, pneumonia, vision problems, hearing loss, and dental problems.

Is this an important problem for the US?

Yes! As of 2015, the US had a preterm birth rate of 9.6%, roughly 1 in 10 babies were born prematurely, about 380,000 babies in the US each year. The US, while one of the most advanced countries in the world, ranked #130 in preterm births out of 184 countries in 2010.

The March of Dimes has seen a steady decline in preterm births since its height in 2006, at 12.8%, but if you go back in time – in 1980 it was 9.4%.

What are the healthcare costs of a preterm baby?

The March of Dimes estimates that a preterm birth costs $50,000 more than a full-term birth for the first year of life ($5,085 for a healthy, full-term baby and $55,393 for a premature or low birth weight baby).

Considering a larger scale, the March of Dimes estimates that businesses are billed over $12 billion annually in excess health care costs due to preterm birth within their employee base.

What is March of Dimes doing around preterm birth?

The March of Dimes was founded in 1938 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt with the mission of curing polio. By 1958 the polio vaccine was in full swing, they needed a new mission so they turned to babies. Initially, their mission was to prevent birth defects and infant mortality. In 2003 they focused their efforts on prematurity – the single biggest health risk for infants today. Solving preterm birth would have the biggest impact on infant mortality.

Does that give you an idea of the severity of the problem?

Why is this important to GrassrootsHealth?

Together with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, we have found a way to significantly decrease the rate of preterm birth with a cost-effective, reproducible program called Protect Our Children NOW! Indeed, it protects our children by giving them the start to life they need – the healthiest pregnancy and longest time in utero. We are working with hospitals, institutions, individuals, and public health officials to move this out into standard practice – the time is NOW!

Want more information?

Read about this program at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Read the paper associated with the first 15 months of this program.

Read the many videos, papers, and charts about pregnancy and vitamin D.