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Director's Update

Preterm Birth: Advancing Toward Prevention and Better Outcomes

Dr. Catherine Spong

When I was pregnant with my first child 17 years ago, I had the usual worries compounded by my knowledge as an obstetrician and high-risk pregnancy specialist. I knew first-hand the impact of prematurity and other complications. Like other moms-to-be, I hoped to deliver a healthy baby. As a research physician, I was eager for evidence-based knowledge to make this a reality.

Because it was my first pregnancy, my doctor couldn't tell me whether my risks were any higher than other expecting moms. Beyond the basic risks known at the time--smoking, drinking, and prior history--the medical field just didn't have the evidence back then.

Over the ensuing years, I have witnessed the advances in our understanding of preterm birth. Now, not only can we identify, measure, and track many of the warning signs, we also have some preventative therapies. Today, I am able to tell my patients about their risks for delivering a baby too early, and I can offer several effective interventions. In recognition of Prematurity Awareness Month, and specifically, World Prematurity Day, November 17, I share some thoughts and observations on what we've learned and what we hope to learn still through ongoing research.

Read the rest of Dr. Spong’s article in The Huffington Post External Web Site Policy.

Last Reviewed: 11/20/2015

About the Director

Catherine Y. Spong, M.D., assumed the duties of Acting NICHD Director in October 2015, after the retirement of Dr. Alan Guttmacher.

Read More About the Acting Director
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