Rate of Preterm Births Increasing in United States

May 29, 2008

The percentage of preterm singleton births in the United States has risen to nearly 11 percent, with most of the increase due to higher rates of Caesarean section deliveries, according to a report in the June issue of Clinics in Perinatology.

THURSDAY, May 29 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of preterm singleton births in the United States has risen to nearly 11 percent, with most of the increase due to higher rates of Caesarean section deliveries, according to a report in the June issue of Clinics in Perinatology.

Vani R. Bettegowda, from the March of Dimes Foundation in White Plains, N.Y., and colleagues examined the association between Caesarean delivery rates and gestational age distribution among singleton live births in the United States.

The researchers found that between 1996 and 2004, the proportion of preterm births increased from 9.7 percent to 10.7 percent. Most of the increase was among births delivered by Caesarean section, with the largest increase occurring among late preterm births. Singleton Caesarean rates increased for all gestational ages for all maternal racial and ethnic groups, but increased at a faster rate among all preterm gestational age groups for non-Hispanic black women.

"The increasing trend of delivering at earlier gestational ages has raised concerns of the impact on maternal and infant health," Bettegowda and colleagues conclude. "The delicate balance of the risks and benefits associated with continuing a pregnancy versus delivering early remains challenging."

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