Premature Births Worsen Infant Death Rate in U.S

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), November 9, 2009 | Go to article overview

Premature Births Worsen Infant Death Rate in U.S


Byline: Associated Press

Premature births, often due to poor care of low-income pregnant women, are the main reason the U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than in most European countries, a government report said.

About 1 in 8 U.S. births are premature. Early births are much less common in most of Europe; for example, only 1 in 18 babies are premature in Ireland and Finland.

Poor access to prenatal care, maternal obesity and smoking, too-early cesarean sections and induced labor and fertility treatments are among the reasons for preterm births, experts said.

Premature babies born before 37 weeks tend to be more fragile and have underdeveloped lungs, said the lead author of the new report, Marian MacDorman of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Premature births are the chief reason the U.S. ranks 30th in the world in infant mortality, with a rate more than twice as high as infant mortality rates in Sweden, Japan, Finland, Norway and the Czech Republic.

For several years, the U.S. has ranked poorly among industrialized nations.

If U.S. infants were as mature as SwedenAEs are at birth, nearly 8,000 infant deaths could be avoided and the U.S. infant mortality rate would be about one-third lower than it is, according to a calculation by MacDorman and others at the CDCAEs National Center for Health Statistics. …

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