Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Research and Disability Topics

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Prenatal development and care

Prenatal care is the care a woman gets before pregnancy and before her baby is born. Getting early and regular prenatal care is important for both the mother and the developing baby. Prenatal care includes health care, along with education and counseling about how to handle different aspects of pregnancy. A health care provider may discuss many issues, such as nutrition and physical activity, what to expect during the birth process, and basic skills for caring for an infant. In addition, health care providers are now recommending that a woman see a health care provider for preconception care, before she is even trying to get pregnant.


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  • Premature births remain a medical mystery
    Doctors have no way of knowing which pregnancies will be preterm, and in about half of all cases, they don’t know why a mother delivers early. However, science is beginning to divulge some clues, such as social stress, bacterial infection and hereditary influences, which might be tied to early births. Louis Muglia, Ph.D., M.D., Edward Claiborne Stahlman Professor and Vice Chair for Research Affairs in Pediatrics, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, is quoted.

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