Womens Health

Puerto Rico's High Premature Birthrate Due to Water Contaminants?

| by Unnecesarean

From Puerto Rico struggles with high preterm birth rate:

With nearly 20 percent of infants born before 37 weeks, Puerto Rico has the highest pre-term birth rate in the United States and one of the highest in the world.

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Poverty in Puerto Rico, which has half the per capita income of the poorest U.S. state, can be a factor. Also, 48 percent of the island’s births are performed by Cesarean section, compared with 32 percent on the U.S. mainland. In some cases doctors opt to deliver babies by C-section before they reach term in hopes of avoiding complications. [Emphasis mine]

But researchers say that’s not enough to explain why the island’s pre-term birth rate has jumped more than 50 percent over the last two decades.

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The National Institutes of Health last month awarded $9.9 million for a team of university researchers to study whether contaminants in Puerto Rico’s groundwater are contributing to the problem.