HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

Drawing Conclusions from Rising Preterm Birth Rates

Posted on | September 21, 2006 | No Comments

When Gro Brundtland released the WHO’s World Health Report 2000, American health leaders were shocked by the United States’ rank of 37th. That score was a composite of five marks. We did well in areas such as training, high-tech diagnostics, and elaborate specialty intervention. But we didn’t do as well when it came to the basics. It was determined that the U.S. is unable to equitably distribute resources across our population.

One area where this has become more obvious is preterm births. In 1981, 9.4% of births occurred before 37 weeks gestation. Now, the number is 30 percent higher, at 12.5%, and this percentage varies among the different races and ethnic groups. Numbers in African-Americans (17.8%), Hispanics (11.8%), and Native Americans (13.5%) are higher than those for whites (11.5%).

On July 13, 2006, the IOM released a report on the issue. It acknowledges that mortality rates are down, thanks to reactive care systems, but prevention efforts are obviously not working. Premature births in the U.S. have cost society about $26 billion, or $51,600 per child, conservatively.

The Lancett also did a report on preterm births in their July 29 issue. Check it out.

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