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Higher Risk Of Death For Babies Born Just A Few Weeks Early, Study Finds

Date:
November 14, 2007
Source:
March of Dimes Foundation
Summary:
Just a few more weeks of pregnancy may mean the difference between life and death for premature babies. While babies born late preterm often are considered healthy, they have higher risks of complications at birth than babies born full term. Studies have shown that late preterm infants have a greater risk of respiratory problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability, jaundice and that their brains are less developed than full term infants.

Babies born just a few weeks premature are six times more likely to die during their first week of life, than full-term babies, according to an analysis published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

"We have known from previous studies that late preterm infants have greater risk of certain problems like respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and brain development, Now we have evidence that there is a greater risk of death among these babies," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes Foundation.

Late preterm babies, those born at 34 to 36 weeks gestation (full term is birth at 37 completed weeks gestation), account for 71 percent of all premature births. The national preterm birth rate is 12.5 percent which means that more than 500,000 infants are born too soon each year.

In 2005, the nation's annual societal cost (medical, educational, and lost productivity) from preterm birth was $26.2 billion and average first year medical costs were about 10 times greater for preterm than for term infants.

But the financial costs pale in comparison to the devastating consequences shown in the study.

"This study adds to our growing knowledge of the increased medical complications and higher risk of infant death among late preterm infants compared with babies born full term," said Joann Petrini, PhD. director of the March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center and one of the study's co-authors. "Babies born even just a few weeks too soon should be closely monitored."

"Late preterm and full term infants have different risks for death in the first year of life and our study found the greatest disparity -- a six-fold difference -- in the first week of life," said Kay M. Tomashek, MD, MPH, a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the paper's lead author.

Journal reference: "Differences in Mortality Between Late-Preterm and Term Singleton Infants in the United States, 1995-2002," is being published in the November 2007 Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 151, No. 5.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by March of Dimes Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

March of Dimes Foundation. "Higher Risk Of Death For Babies Born Just A Few Weeks Early, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113075006.htm>.
March of Dimes Foundation. (2007, November 14). Higher Risk Of Death For Babies Born Just A Few Weeks Early, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113075006.htm
March of Dimes Foundation. "Higher Risk Of Death For Babies Born Just A Few Weeks Early, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113075006.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

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