The Big Cost of Little Babies

ABC News had a video news clip Saving Premature Babies in August 2008 and I felt there were a couple of things worth commenting on.

Minimizing prematurity is definitely a cause worthy of a newscast. Women need to be educated in how everything from their diet to their stress level increased the chance of prematurity because these are things they can largely control. They may need assistance or tools to cope, but most of the things that cause prematurity are preventable.

The problem I had with this particular video was that they keep harping on the importance of prenatal care as prevention. If prenatal care as it is currently defined in the US today actually improved outcomes, that would be great. However, Prenatal Care Does Not Improve Outcomes.
The American College of Physicians even recommended fewer visits and fewer ultrasound 10 years ago.

Effective prenatal care is how the woman cares for herself and her baby. If we spend as much time and money educating women and helping them make good decisions as we do on wasteful and useless routine technology, we'd have better outcomes.

The other problem I had was with the statement "Doctors say if every premature birth could be delayed even one week, the infant mortality rate would go down dramatically." (Vargas)

The statement is true, but it isn't the mothers who don't get prenatal care that account for the largest number of premature births...it is the women who DO see a physician and are induced.

Dr. Kenneth Trofatter explains in his Health Line blog:

"Late preterm birth now constitutes about three-quarters of all preterm deliveries. This amounts to more than 300,000 deliveries per year! Many of these deliveries are by elective cesarean section and many others result from cesarean section as a consequence of failed labor induction..."

I just get annoyed when the public is misled by people supposedly providing factual news.

To be fair, the same reporter did a similar report on prematurity in poor communities that was much more accurate and balanced.

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