More and More Babies Born Too Soon
Early Delivery: 'A Problem We Should Have Solved' continued...
"Some studies suggest that if a woman is abused or
neglected early in life, she may be hypersensitive to stress," Holzman
says. "She may put out more stress hormones, which can affect
Savitz, who is chairman of the department of epidemiology at
the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is principal investigator for
the ongoing Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition study, one of the largest and
most comprehensive studies to date exploring the potential causes of preterm
delivery. Researchers are currently looking at data gathered from 3,000 women
and hope to enroll another 2,000 in the study, which examines social, economic,
nutritional, and biologic factors possibly related to premature births.
So far, Savitz says, the researchers have found no previously
unidentified factors responsible for premature delivery. In fact, analysis of
preliminary data suggest that several behaviors thought to be associated with
preterm delivery -- like smoking cigarettes and using cocaine -- may not
"Obviously, both of these things play a big role in fetal
development, but our findings suggest they don't influence delivery,"
Savitz says. "There are a lot of hypotheses and very little clear data on
what the relevant risk factors for preterm birth are. I wish I could tell you
we have some striking new evidence of what causes this, but so far we are
finding more things that aren't related."