Medical News and Perspectives
December 27, 2006

Groups Take Aim at US Preterm Birth Rate

JAMA. 2006;296(24):2907-2908. doi:10.1001/jama.296.24.2907

New efforts to prevent preterm births are gaining momentum, as physicians, health-promoting organizations, and legislators try to reverse persistently increasing rates of early deliveries in the United States.

Over the past 2 decades the rate of preterm birth has risen more than 30%—with 12.5% of US infants born before 37 weeks of gestation in 2004, according to the latest statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, released in September. Such births cost the United States more than $26 billion each year and lead to lasting medical and behavioral problems for many of these children, according to a July Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on preterm birth. But now the issue is gaining renewed attention as the IOM, the March of Dimes, and even the US Congress try to tackle the problem.

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