Preterm labor occurs when the uterus contracts and the cervix opens before the 37th week of pregnancy. This can lead to preterm birth, a leading cause of death in newborns worldwide. Preterm birth can also cause respiratory distress, jaundice, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and other conditions that negatively impact health. Early detection and treatment of preterm labor is essential to improve outcomes for both mother and child.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, one in 10 babies were affected by preterm labor, and in 2019, the rate of preterm birth among Black/African American women (14.4%) was about 50% higher than the rate of preterm birth among white women (9.3%). Many factors may contribute to this disparity. Research suggests that Black/African American women are more likely to be exposed to stressors that can trigger preterm labor, such as financial insecurity or racism. Additionally, Black/African American women are more likely to have certain health conditions that can increase their risk of preterm labor, such as obesity or high blood pressure.

If you are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future, have constructive conversations with your doctors and birth team about how you can manage and prevent preterm labor. Reach out to AAHP’s SMILE (Start More Infants Living Equally healthy) program for support, education, and guidance. The SMILE has been at the forefront of improving birth outcomes for Blacks/African Americans in Montgomery County for more than two decades. Learn more about the SMILE program here.

Check out AAHP's informative video on preterm labor here.

The African American Health Program is funded and administered by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and implemented by McFarland & Associates, Inc.
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