Preterm birth, a major cause of morbidity and mortality among infants, has been increasing in the United States over the last decade, according to the CDC.
The study, which looked at the birth certificates of babies born between 1989 and 1996, reports CBS Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, found the following:
- There has been an 8 percent increase in premature births among white women.
- Premature births have decreased 10 percent among black women and 4 percent among Hispanic women.
The researchers noted that more women 35 and older are having babies and say this may be causing an increase in the number of premature births.
The researchers believe that maternal age, marital status and prenatal care all may play a role in the changes described in the study.
While modern technology has helped thousands of premature babies survive, an early birth still can be dangerous.
Experts say that during the first month of life, premature delivery ranks as the second leading cause of infant death.
Although the rate is highest among black women, who are still twice as likely to have a preterm baby than white women, researchers are encouraged that women are doing what they can to reduce those numbers.
To prevent a premature baby, women can control any pre-pregnancy conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure before becoming pregnant.
Also, women should seek prenatal care as soon as they discover they are pregnant.