Prevention is key, March of Dimes says
Death or severe cognitive and neuromotor impairment are common outcomes among extremely premature infants (fewer than 26 weeks gestation), according to a British study published today in The New England Journal of Medicine. "Prematurity is a common, serious problem in America and unfortunately, the number of preterm births is rising each year," said Scott D. Berns, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, vice president for chapter programs of the March of Dimes. "Too many babies are born extremely premature in this country, and the result is that many of them die in the hospital or suffer lifelong consequences, including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss."
"More research on the underlying causes of preterm birth is needed if we are to reverse this trend," Dr. Berns said. "The March of Dimes wants to prevent prematurity from occurring in the first place -- we want every birth to be a healthy one."
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