Preterm birth prevention conference called by Surgeon General

June 19, 2008

Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson opened a two-day conference this week to form an action plan to prevent the national rise of premature infant births.

Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson opened a two-day conference this week to form an action plan to prevent the national rise of premature infant births.

The plan calls for a national system to improve understanding of preterm birth occurence, as well as a national education program to help women reduce the risk of giving birth prematurely. Furthermore, improved methods for estimating fetus age and studies to discover biomarkers for the onset of preterm labor are also needed, according to the plan.

In addition, the March of Dimes announced it would extend its Prematurity Campaign by 10 years to 2020, which aims to reduce the preterm birth rate by 15%. As part of the expansion, the March of Dimes will issue an annual report card that will grade the national preterm birth rate, as well as preterm birth rates for all 50 states.

It is estimated that more than half a million babies, or one out of every eight, are born prematurely, which represents a 20% increase since 1990. In addition, according to a recent study by the March of Dimes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of all premature births are near-term.