Report Finds 13 Million Babies are Born Prematurely Worldwide; 1 Million Die
Interview with Chris Howson, vice president for global programs at the March of Dimes Foundation, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
The first global study of pre-term births has just been completed. A collaboration between the March of Dimes Foundation and the United Nations World Health Organization found that 13 million babies are born prematurely every year, and one million of them die. Those who survive often face a lifetime of disabilities, including hearing loss, blindness, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Surprisingly, the rate -- though not the total numbers -- of pre-term births by continent is almost as high in North America, including Canada and the U.S., as it is in Africa. The UN plans to follow up this report with more detailed, country-by-country research.
According to the March of Dimes the rate of premature births in the United States has increased 36 percent in the past 25 years. The increase in the rate of late preterm births (between 34 and 36 weeks gestation) accounts for most of the increase. The group points out that the emotional costs for families can be devastating and life-changing and the financial costs affect society as a whole. Prematurity accounts for almost half of hospital charges for infants.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Chris Howson, vice president for global programs at the March of Dimes Foundation, just before he delivered a report on the study at an international conference on the prevention of birth defects and disabilities in Delhi, India. He discusses what the report revealed, what's still not understood about the problem, and possible remedies.
Contact the March of Dimes Foundation by calling (914) 997-4488. Read the pre-term birth report online at www.marchofdimes.org.
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