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Resolve to live healthier
Health advice
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More and more people are taking charge of their health and making goals to create a healthier lifestyle. Some have created New Year resolutions centered on personal goals, family changes and environmental adaptations. It makes good sense to be proactive and to plan for important events instead of letting calamity into your life.
It is also smart for young adults to look at their lifestyle and think about what they wish to experience and include in that life. Young couples should discuss if they wish children, their idea of the perfect family size and when they wish to start that family.
Hopefully, they will spend more time planning their offspring than experiencing dismay when an “accident” happens. What child wants to be known as an accident? And what adult wants to have to adapt to an unexpected pregnancy rather than experience the excitement and pleasure of a much-desired precious baby.
In addition to family planning, young couples should be aware of issues that may affect that pregnancy - one of the most common being premature delivery.
Pre-maturity is a significant problem because it is the leading cause of death in the first month of a baby’s life, and these babies - even late pre-term infants - have a greater risk of respiratory distress syndrome, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain development.
Instead of getting better, the pre-term birth rate has increased more than 20 percent since 1990.Two years ago, pre-term births costs the nation more than $26.2 billion in medical and educational costs for infants and in lost productivity for families. The average first year medical costs for pre-term infants were about 10 times greater than for term infants.
Late pre-term babies, those born at 34 to 36 weeks gestation, (full term is birth at 37 completed weeks gestation), account for 71 percent of all premature births. The national pre-term birth rate is 12.5 percent, which means more than 500,000 infants are born too soon each year.
Women who are at greatest risk of pre-term labor and birth are those who have had a previous pre-term birth, are pregnant with twins, triplets or more or who have certain uterine or cervical abnormalities. Studies have discovered that the following lifestyle factors may put a woman at greater risk of pre-term labor:
• Late or no prenatal care
• Use of tobacco products or living in a facility with smokers
• Use of alcohol
• Use of illegal drugs
• Exposure to the medication DES
• Domestic violence, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse
• Lack of social support
• Stress
• Long working hours with long periods of standing
Some risk factors that are associated with premature deliveries include being an African-American woman, being younger than 17 or older than 35, and it is apparent that women who are poor seem to be at greater risk than other women. While these factors apparently increase the risk that a woman will have pre-term labor or birth, the reason why is not known. Medical conditions during pregnancy that may increase the likelihood of pre-term labor include:
• Urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, sexually transmitted infections and possibly other infections
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Clotting disorders (thrombophilia)
• Bleeding from the vagina
• Certain birth defects in the baby
• Being pregnant with a single fetus after in vitro fertilization (IVF)
• Being underweight before pregnancy
• Obesity
• Short time period between pregnancies (less than 6-9 months between birth and the beginning of the next pregnancy)
While it is true many women without any risk factors will have a pre-term baby, there are some things you can do to reduce the chance it will happen to you:
• Get prenatal care as soon as you think you’re pregnant and go to every appointment. Go even if you feel fine. If possible, see your health care provider before you get pregnant.
• If you smoke, stop smoking. It’s best to stop before you get pregnant. If you can’t stop, try to cut down. Avoid secondhand smoke.
• Don’t drink alcohol.
• Talk to your health care provider about prescription medications you are taking.
• If you use drugs or herbal remedies or supplements that are not prescribed by your health care provider, stop using them. It’s best to stop before you get pregnant.  
• Try to reduce stress. Ask friends and family for help. Rest and relax whenever you can.
• If you’re in an abusive relationship, talk to someone. Abuse often gets worse during pregnancy. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your baby    
• If you feel burning or pain when you urinate, you may have an infection. Call your health care provider.
• Know the signs of pre-term labor and what to do if you have any of them.
The material for this article came from the March of Dimes Web site at
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