More than 1 million infants die each year because they are born too early, according to the March of Dimes White Paper The Global and Regional Toll of Preterm Birth published in October 2009.
In 2005, an estimated 13 million babies worldwide were born preterm (defined as birth at less than 37 full weeks of gestation). That is almost 10 percent of total births worldwide. About 1 million deaths in the first month of life (or 28 percent of total newborn deaths) are attributable to preterm birth.
The highest preterm birth rates in the world are found in Africa, followed by North America (United States and Canada combined).
When the report was issued, Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, noted, “Premature births are an enormous global problem that is exacting a huge toll emotionally, physically and financially on families, medical systems and economies. In the United States alone, the annual cost of caring for preterm babies and their associated health problems tops $26 billion annually.
“If world leaders are serious about reaching the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, then strategies and funding for reducing death and disability related to preterm birth must receive priority,” Dr. Howse added.
Download the report (3.1 mb) for more information.
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© 2009 March of Dimes Foundation. All rights reserved. The March of Dimes is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.