(RxWiki News) Pregnant women should watch for signs of early labor. And if you’re Hispanic, you should take extra care: A new study says that Hispanic-Americans are at greater risk of preterm delivery.
Doctors from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., report that Hispanic women living in the U.S. for more than 10 years are at twice the risk of premature birth, compared to Hispanic women living in the U.S. for less than 10 years.
And the risk is tripled for Hispanic women born in the U.S.
"Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about risk factors for preterm birth."
Preterm birth occurs when a baby is delivered at least three weeks before its due date. Preterm delivery can put the baby at risk of breathing problems, intellectual disabilities and cerebral palsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The team’s research shows that environmental factors, which may be preventable, can increase a woman’s risk for preterm birth, reports study author Dr. Radek Bukowski, M.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and colleagues in a press release.
In the study, researchers looked at 2,141 Hispanic women who had given birth to at least one child. They found that women who lived in the U.S. for less than 10 years had a 3.4% chance of early labor. Women living in the U.S. for more than 10 years had a 7.4% chance of preterm birth.
They also report that Hispanic women born in the U.S. were at greater risk, as they were 9.5% likely to experience preterm delivery.
When examining the women, the researchers factored in the women’s age, body mass index, education, marital status, income, and whether they smoked or had diabetes or hypertension.
It remains unclear which specific environmental factors are contributing to the increased risk, says Bukowski. But since the risk factors were acquired while living in the U.S., it’s likely that the risk is preventable.
All of the women in the study were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
About half a million babies – or 1 in 8 - are born premature every year, says the CDC. The cause of preterm labor is unknown in about 40% of cases. Risk factors include carrying multiple babies, having a previous preterm birth, problems with the uterus or cervix, and cigarette or alcohol use.
This study was presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. No conflicts of interest were stated. Funding sources for the study were not reported.