In a study of nearly 7 million live births, researchers have found that preterm babies are more than twice as likely to have major birth defects as full-term babies.
Results from the study also showed that babies born between 24 and 31 weeks gestation were five times as likely to have a birth defect as full-term infants. Central nervous system and cardiovascular defects were the most common birth defects in this subset.
The findings were reported in the May 17 online Maternal and Child Health Journal. The analysis examined live birth data between 1995 and 2000 from 13 states, which represented roughly 30% of all US births.