Dr. Janet Bronstein, professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has written “Preterm Birth in the United States: A Sociocultural Approach,” which provides a wide knowledge base for maternal and child health professionals across diverse disciplines, including public health, social work, nursing, medicine, and health policy.
[Photo: Dr. Janet Bronstein]
“The primary objective of this book is to explore multiple overlapping dimensions of preterm birth in the United States simultaneously, so that the view in each dimension can be illuminated, both by history and by an understanding of the view from the other dimensions,” she says. “It also brings cultural perspective to the ethical dilemmas concerning preterm birth in the United States.”
The first-of-its-kind volume addresses the numerous issues both in a national context as well as in contrast with other countries, which tend to have lower rates of preterm birth than the United States. In addition to including current clinical and epidemiological data, it examines how preterm births in this country relate to larger social concerns regarding poverty, racial disparities, reproductive rights, gender expectations, and the business of health care.
Comparisons with preterm birth experiences in Canada, the United Kingdom, and other Western European countries illustrate cultural narratives about motherhood, women’s status, differences across social welfare and abortion policies, as well as across health care financing and delivery systems, in addition to how these may affect outcomes for newborns.
The book breaks down such aspects as causes, treatments, and outcomes; distribution of preterm births; how we understand preterm birth; how we use government policies to attempt to solve the preterm birth problem; delivering care for high-risk pregnant women and preterm infants; and moral decision-making about preterm births.
Overall, insights from sociology and anthropology are integrated into contemporary understandings of preterm birth in clinical medicine and epidemiology, showing how beliefs about pregnancy and the organization of the U.S. medical system influence the preterm birth rate and survival rates for preterm babies.