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Book highlights differences in preterm births in America and other countries

September 08, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A University of Alabama at Birmingham professor, Janet Bronstein, Ph.D., wrote the book "Preterm Birth in the United States: A Sociocultural Approach," which provides a wide knowledge base for maternal and child health professionals across diverse disciplines, including public health, social work, nursing, medicine and health policy.

"The primary objective of this book is to explore multiple overlapping dimensions of preterm birth in the U.S. simultaneously, so that the view in each dimension can be illuminated, both by history and by an understanding of the view from the other dimensions," Bronstein said.

The first-of-its-kind volume addresses the numerous issues relating to premature births in the United States, both in national context and compared with other countries, which have much lower rates of preterm birth than the United States. In addition to current clinical and epidemiological data, it examines how preterm births in the United States fit with larger social concerns regarding poverty, racial disparities, reproductive rights, gender expectations and the business of health care.

Comparisons with preterm birth experiences in Canada, the United Kingdom and other Western European countries illustrate cultural narratives about motherhood, women's status, differences across social welfare and abortion policies, as well as across health care financing and delivery systems, and how these may affect outcomes for newborns.

The book breaks down preterm birth and these interesting complexities by addressing various aspects:
  • Clinical: causes, treatments and outcomes of preterm birth
  • Population: the distribution of preterm births
  • Cultural: how we understand preterm birth
  • Political: how we use government policies to attempt to solve the preterm birth problem
  • Heath care: delivering care for high-risk pregnant women and preterm infants
  • Ethical: moral decision-making about preterm births


Overall, insights from sociology and anthropology are integrated into contemporary understandings of preterm birth in clinical medicine and epidemiology, showing how beliefs about pregnancy and the organization of the U.S. medical system influence the preterm birth rate and survival rates for preterm babies.

"This book brings cultural perspective to the ethical dilemmas concerning preterm birth in the U.S.," Bronstein said.

The book is available online through the publishing company, Springer. More information is available on the book's Facebook page, Preterm Birth in the United States - J. Bronstein, Ph.D.
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About UAB

Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is the state of Alabama's largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center; its professional schools and specialty patient-care programs are consistently ranked among the nation's top 50. UAB's Center for Clinical and Translational Science is advancing innovative discoveries for better health as a two-time recipient of the prestigious Center for Translational Science Award. Find more information at http://www.uab.edu and http://www.uabmedicine.org.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The University of Alabama at Birmingham is a separate, independent institution from the University of Alabama, which is located in Tuscaloosa. Please use University of Alabama at Birmingham on first reference and UAB on all subsequent references.

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University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Makeup of vaginal microbiome linked to preterm birth
In a study of predominantly African-American women -- who have a much higher rate of delivering babies early compared with other racial groups -- researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
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Babies born preterm run a higher risk of heart failure during childhood and adolescence than those born at full term, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden report.
Low accuracy found for tests used to predict risk of spontaneous preterm birth for women who have not given birth before
The use of two measures, fetal fibronectin (a protein) levels and transvaginal cervical length, had low predictive accuracy for spontaneous preterm birth among women who have not given birth before, according to a study appearing in the March 14 issue of JAMA.
Study describes potential clinical test and treatment for preterm birth
Scientists identified a molecular driver of inflammation that may finally answer a key question about what causes mild systemic prenatal infections to trigger preterm birth.
Vaginal progesterone reduces the rate of preterm birth
Treatment with vaginal progesterone reduced the risk of preterm birth, neonatal complications and death in pregnant women with twins and who have a short cervix -- a risk factor for preterm birth -- according to a meta-analysis of individual patient data by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the Detroit Medical Center, and other institutions in the United States and abroad.
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Pregnant women increase their chances of vitamin B12 deficiency if they don't consume enough meat, milk or eggs.
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A study published on Sept. 1 in PLOS Pathogens reports that GBS produces membrane-bound vesicles containing bacterial factors that can attack the host tissue.
Study quantifies risk factors for preterm birth
A significant portion of preterm births might be avoided by reducing or eliminating three major risk factors: abnormalities in the interval between pregnancies, the mother's body mass index prior to pregnancy, and the amount of weight gain in pregnancy.
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In a study of almost 700 pregnant women who received a cervical stitch designed to prevent preterm labor, the use of one type of suture over another was associated with three times higher risk of stillbirth and almost twice the risk of preterm birth.
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