A startling new study shows 15 million premature babies are born every year in the world. Globally, prematurity is the leading killer of newborns.
This number is even more shocking when you take into account that 1.1 million of these newborns will die as a result, and those who survive, might suffer from lifelong disabilities.
Most of the preemies are born in Africa and Asia, according to the “Born Too Soon” report, compiled as part of the United Nations’ “Every Woman Every Child” initiative.
In the U.S. however, half a million babies are preterm — that’s about 1 in 8, and it’s higher than Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan.
It’s hard to explain why the U.S. rate was so much worse than similar developed countries — it may lie in the fact that uninsured U.S. women have poorer access to prenatal care, March of Dimes epidemiologist Christopher Howson said in the report.
These deaths could be prevented by simple, inexpensive care to the countries most affected, the report concludes. For example: $1 steroid shots administered during preterm labor could stop the development of immature fetal lungs. That’s translating to 400,000 babies saved a year, says the report.
The report has taken three years to compile and is written by experts in 11 countries. They are aiming to draw attention to the global epidemic and trying to raise money to solve it.
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