Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Children and Families, Environmental Health, Select Populations and Health Equity, Women's Health
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

Activity Description

The incidence of premature birth (about 1 in 8 infants) and increased risk of death and long term disability among infants that are preterm and low birth weight constitute a serious public health issue. Preterm deliveries have increased in the past twenty years, impacting families, communities, and health care services. Children born prematurely are more likely to suffer a variety of motor, cognitive, academic, and behavioral problems as well as physical health problems in adulthood, such as increased rates of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and non-insulin dependent diabetes. In addition, there are significant disparities in preterm rates across various populations.

An IOM committee defined and addressed the health related and economic consequences of premature birth. The broad goals of the study were to:

  1. describe the current state of the science and clinical research with respect to the causes of premature birth;
  2. address the broad costs - economic, medical, social, psychological, and educational - for children and their families; and
  3. establish a framework for action in addressing the range of priority issues, including a research and policy agenda for the future.

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