Prematurity Research Center
Why Preterm Birth?
- One in eight babies in the United States is born prematurely.
- The leading cause of newborn death in the U.S.
- Prematurity ranks with some of the most serious health problems of children.
- Prematurity costs the nation more than $26 billion annually (IOM 2006).
- While it has declined slightly in recent years, the preterm birth rate remains nearly 30 percent higher than it was in the early 1980s.
- In nearly half of the cases of premature birth, there is no clear cause.
- Some mothers who have done everything right, carrying otherwise healthy pregnancies, still go into labor early — putting the health and life of the baby at risk.
- Basic medical research is needed to identify the causes of premature birth, which is at the root of so many other health problems newborns can face.
- Intractable problem.
- Resistant to traditional approaches.
- Multi-faceted phenotype with multiple interacting etiologic mechanisms.
- Complex gene-environment (physical and social) interaction.
Babies born even a few weeks prematurely face serious risks of death and long-term disability, including:
- Respiratory problems
- Underdeveloped organs
- Cerebral palsy
- Potentially life-threatening infections; and Developmental disabilities, learning disabilities and behavioral problems later in life