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Next Public Health Grand Rounds

Public Health Strategies to Prevent Preterm Birth

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10am ET Photo: Preterm baby feet held by adult hands

During the final months of pregnancy, a growing baby goes through important stages of development. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of death or serious disability. Preterm birth, the birth of an infant before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the largest contributor to infant death. Infants born before 32 weeks gestation bear the biggest burden – representing more than 50 percent of infant deaths. Premature births also pose a long-lasting financial burden on the individual, their families and society. In 2005, the Institute of Medicine reported that each year the cost associated with premature birth in the United States was over $26 billion.

Modern technology and stronger public health strategies have made a significant impact in reducing preterm births and infant mortality. However, we still have a lot to learn about the causes of premature birth in order to prevent it and protect the youngest members of our society, especially among racial and ethnic minorities.


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  • Page last reviewed: November 2, 2015
  • Page last updated: November 2, 2015
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