One in every eight babies is born prematurely, a number that has increased by 20 percent since 1990. Recently, officials from the National Institutes of Health, along with outside experts,  convened at a conference to assemble a plan to dramatically decrease premature births.  Premature births are three times more likely to occur in African American infants than in white infants.

Many doctors and researchers believe that smoking, drinking alcohol, diabetes, high blood pressure and lack of prenatal care among expectant mothers are to blame for the increase of premature births. The plans discussed at the conference are aimed at bringing those numbers down. They include providing more information to more women on risky maternal behavior and making changes in the way in vitro fertilization is practiced.

Read RH’s feature “On Fertile Ground,” to learn about the facts surrounding premature births, as well as ways to prevent it.