Preterm birth can have life-long impact

DURHAM, N.C. (UPI) — Being born prematurely can impact how well people do in school and their ability to have children, a study by U.S. and Norwegian researchers said.

Lead author Dr. Geeta Swamy of Duke University Medical Center said premature birth — before 37 weeks of gestation — is the leading cause of infant mortality. The earlier a child is born the higher the risk.

“Those who are born extremely prematurely are more likely to have complications throughout their lives,” Swamy said in a statement.

Swamy, with colleagues at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, used a national population-based registry from 1967 to 1988 containing birth and death data to analyze how premature birth affects long-term survival, subsequent reproduction and next-generation preterm birth.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the lower the gestational age the greater the risk of having less education. Reproduction rates were considerably lower for men and women born preterm and reproduction increased in direct proportion to higher gestational age, the study said.

In addition, women born preterm were more likely to experience recurrent preterm birth and an increased risk of adverse outcomes in their offspring.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International
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