Report: 13M babies worldwide born premature

October 5, 2009 6:35:07 AM PDT
A March of Dimes official calls it the "13 million baby question." Epidemiologist Christopher Howson is talking about how to tackle the growing problem of premature births around the world.

While the proportion of all babies born too early are highest in Africa, it's followed closely by North America, where wealthy nations such as the United States have sophisticated neonatal intensive care units.

The conclusion is part of a collaboration with the World Health Organization on the global problem.

The report says nearly one in 10 of the world's babies is born premature, and about 1 million infants die each year as a result. Scientists don't even know all the triggers or how to stop early labor once it starts, one reason that the report urges major new research.

Preemies can have lifelong problems including cerebral palsy, blindness and learning disabilities.

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