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Mothers & Babies - Reproductive Health

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Under the category of “Mothers and Babies,” the CDC is interested in tracking preterm (early) births and low birthweight deliveries (infants weighing less than 2500 grams, or 5lbs. 8oz). These categories of births are associated with modifiable risk factors, many of which are related to public health. Reducing the risk and preventing preterm and low and very low birthweight births would likely contribute to an overall reduction in illness, disability and death of infants. By collecting this type of data, the State and the CDC can look for trends that may identify potential environmental exposures as well as other risks that can be modified and therefore reduce some specific health risk(s) in future generations of South Carolina’s children.


Please note that the data reported in the following maps and tables related to health outcomes represent all reported cases. When interpreting this data, it is important to understand that some of the numbers reflect cases for which there is no known environmental cause or association.

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Reproductive Health Resouces and Materials

What puts me at risk to have a preterm or low birthweight birth?

Cigarette smoking - Smoking during pregnancy greatly increases the chances of having a low birthweight baby. Women who smoke during pregnancy are also more likely to have a miscarriage and to have a baby born with a cleft lip or cleft palate--type of birth defect.

Low Maternal Weight Gain - When a pregnant woman doesn't gain enough weight her baby is more likely to be born too little and have many problems.

Not Getting Prenatal Care - You can care for your health and your baby's health by going to the doctor as soon as you think you are pregnant.

Substance Abuse - Every time a pregnant woman takes a drink or a drug, her unborn baby does too. Only take medications that your health care provider has said you may take.

Domestic Violence - Abuse can happen to anyone, whether poor, rich, young, or old and among all races. No one deserves to be abused or threatened.

Having Babies Too Close Together - Having babies born less than 24 months apart may increase the chance of having a baby born too small or more likely to be sick.

Infections - There are many kinds of maternal infections that may affect the health of an unborn child and the mother.

Unplanned Pregnancy - A woman who has not planned her pregnancy and/or does not know she is pregnant may not be eating a healthy balanced diet, may not be taking enough folic acid, or getting chronic medical conditions under control such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

What can I do to reduce the risk of having a preterm or low birthweight birth?

Plan Your Pregnancy/Preconception Health

  • It is important for you to be as healthy as possible before becoming pregnant. Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can increase your risk of problems during your pregnancy if they are not controlled.
  • Learn about how to prevent infections.
  • Before becoming pregnant, have a check up and talk to your health care provider about ways to get ready for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Take a multivitamin every day to assure that you are getting enough folic acid which helps prevent birth defects in your future child.
  • Maintain regular oral hygiene before and during pregnancy. Tooth decay and gum disease are infections that can affect you and your baby.

Go to the doctor as soon as you think you are pregnant

  • You should go to the doctor as soon as you think you are pregnant. Have regularly scheduled checkups often; this is the best way to avoid serious problems.
  • Schedule an appointment for prenatal care as soon as you learn you are pregnant! If you need assistance in finding a prenatal care provider, call the Care Line at 1-800-868-0404.

Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet

While you are pregnant, you are feeding yourself and your growing baby. Your baby depends on you to choose good food for both of you. The food you eat gives nutrients that you both need.

Eating well helps your baby:

  • Be born healthy
  • Be born on time
  • Be born a good size

Eating well helps you:

  • Stay healthy
  • Be strong for labor and delivery
  • Have a normal weight gain

Avoid foods like:

  • Hamburgers, fried chicken, pizza, French fries, Potato chips, soft drinks, pastries and rich desserts

Eat more foods like:

  • Fruit or Dried Fruit Snacks
  • Other Snacks - whole grain crackers, cheese, unbuttered popcorn, unsalted pretzels, trail mix and nuts
  • Veggies - raw carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, peppers and cherry tomatoes

Take Folic Acid (a “B’ vitamin)

  • Take a multi-vitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid before and during pregnancy and even if you are not planning on having a baby!
  • Folic acid can help protect your unborn baby from birth defects of the brain and spinal cord called neural tube defects.
  • Folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects that can occur during the first weeks of pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant.
  • Eat foods with folic acid such as: okra, pinto beans, navy beans, mustard greens, kale, spinach, chicken liver, beef liver, orange juice, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, green peas, cauliflower, tomato juice, peanuts, and cantaloupe.

Breastfeed Your Baby

Benefits for Baby:

  • It is easy for the baby to digest
  • Helps prevent allergies and infections
  • Increases the chances of having stronger bones and teeth

Benefits for Mother:

  • Helps the uterus return to its normal size
  • Helps the mother quickly return to her normal weight
  • Helps protect the mother from breast and uterine cancer, and osteoporosis (brittle bones in later years)

Avoid Substance Abuse

  • Drinking any type of alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) can be harmful.
  • Alcohol and drugs can cause a baby to be born too small, developmentally delayed or more likely to be sick.
  • Alcohol and drugs can harm developing organs like the brain and heart.

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  • Birth weight: The first weight of the newborn obtained after birth.
  • Infant death: Death of a live born infant under one year of age
  • Live birth: The complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of human conception, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, which, after such expulsion or extraction, breathes, or shows any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. Heartbeats are to be distinguished from transient cardiac contractions; respirations are to be distinguished from fleeting respiratory efforts or gasps. All states require the reporting of live births regardless of length of gestation or birth weight.
  • Low birth weight: Low birth weight is a weight at birth, which is less than 2,500 grams or 5 pounds 8 ounces.
  • Neonatal death: Death of a live born infant under 28 days of age.
  • Perinatal death: Death of a live born infant less than 7 days of age or a fetus past the 28th week of gestation.
  • Postneonatal death: Death of a live born infant 28-364 days of age.
  • Preterm birth: A live birth occurring before 37 completed weeks of gestation.
  • Sex ratio: Calculated as the number of term male singleton births per the number of term female singleton births in a given year.
  • Singleton birth: A singleton birth results from a pregnancy with only one baby, not a twin or other multiple birth.
  • Term birth: A live birth at or above 37 completed weeks of gestation.
  • Total fertility rate (TFR): Calculated as the sum of all age-specific fertility rates multiplied by five. The TFR estimates the number of births that a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have over their lifetimes, based on the age-specific birth rates in a given year. It can be interpreted as a replacement rate. Replacement is the rate at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, generally considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women.
  • Very low birth weight: Very low birth weight is a weight at birth, which is less than 1,500 grams or 3 pounds 4 ounces.
  • Very preterm birth: A live birth occurring before 32 completed weeks of gestation.

Related Resources

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track it map it use it create it   About Mothers & Babies
For additional information, contact the SC EPHT program:
These web pages are supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 5U38EH000628-02 from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.