The global burden of pre-term birth.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Premature birth (Distribution)
Premature birth (Forecasts and trends)
Premature birth (International aspects)
Pub Date: 05/01/2010
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Reproductive Health Matters Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: May, 2010 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 35
Topic: Event Code: 690 Goods & services distribution; 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks Advertising Code: 59 Channels of Distribution Computer Subject: Company distribution practices; Market trend/market analysis
Accession Number: 236247751
Full Text: Preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks' gestation) is an under-recognised global health issue, partly due to lack of data. A report based on WHO data provides global and regional estimates. In 2005, 13 million pre-term babies were born, giving a global prevalence of 9.6% of which 85% occurred in Africa and Asia. Africa (11.9%), North America (10.6%), and Asia (9.1%) have the highest rates. Where good quality trend data are available, pre-term births seem to be increasing. In the US, the rate of pre-term birth has increased by 36% over 25 years, possibly due to increased use of assisted reproductive technologies. Whether the rate is increasing in low- and middle-income countries is unknown. An estimated 28% of the four million annual neonatal deaths are due to pre-term birth. Survivors have an increased risk of morbidities such as cerebral palsy, blindness, and hearing loss. Even late pre-term births (34-36 weeks' gestation) have a higher rate of disabilities, jaundice, and delayed brain development. In high-income countries there needs to be more focus on pre conception health. Women planning a pregnancy should be encouraged to give up smoking and lose weight. In developing countries, there are simple low-cost interventions to promote a healthy pregnancy outcome, such as treating malnutrition in women before and during pregnancy, treating high blood pressure and diabetes, and monitoring pregnancies for problems. There are cheap and effective ways to care for pre-term babies such as keeping the baby warm, treating infections, and providing adequate nutrition. Governments need to strengthen their data collection systems and pay more attention to preterm birth. (1,2)


(1.) The global burden of preterm birth. Lancet 2010;374:1214.

(2.) White Paper on preterm birth: the global and regional toll. Match of Dimes Foundation 2009. At: .
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