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Research Addresses Preterm Birth, Stillbirth Health Issues, Highlights Preventive Interventions

New research published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth notes some of the “serious short- and long-term health issues” associated with preterm births and identifies steps that can be taken to reduce the number of stillbirths and premature births worldwide, United Press International reports. Each year, 13 million babies are born preterm and there are 3.2 million stillbirths, according to the research. “Neonatal deaths account for more than 42 percent of mortality in children under age 5 – a rise from 37 percent in the year 2000, the report said,” UPI writes (2/22).

The report – which was led by the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), and received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Seattle Children’s – “identifies known causes and 21 proven interventions that could now be widely used to improve these extremely distressing yet under-addressed outcomes. Additionally, it outlines the urgent need for increased focus and attention on research. This is crucial for understanding the magnitude, causes, and consequences of preterm birth and stillbirth, and for speeding up the development of diagnostics, treatment and prevention strategies,” according to a GAPPS press release.

Craig Rubens, executive director of GAPPS said of the report, “For the first time ever, experts from around the world have agreed to a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to solving these global tragedies.” Gary Darmstadt, director of the Family Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “Attention to this crucial stage of life will help make progress toward the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child mortality and improving safe motherhood, because maternal, newborn and child health is so intertwined, and a healthy start to life sets the stage for lifelong health” (2/22).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.