LEARN THE FACTS:
What We Know and What We Don’t
Today more than 1,400 babies in the U.S. will be born prematurely. Many will be too small and too sick to go home. Instead, they face weeks or even months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). These babies face an increased risk of serious medical complications and death; however, most, eventually, will go home.
But what does the future hold for these babies? Many survivors grow up healthy; others aren’t so lucky. Even the best of care cannot always spare a premature baby from lasting disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and learning problems, chronic lung disease, and vision and hearing problems. Half of all neurological disabilities in children are related to premature birth.
Although doctors have made tremendous advances in caring for babies born too small and too soon, we need to find out how to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place. Despite decades of research, scientists have not yet developed effective ways to help prevent premature delivery. In fact, the rate of premature birth increased almost 30 percent between 1981 and 2004 (9.4 to 12.5 percent).
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