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Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;15 Suppl 2:159-61.

Preterm birth research: from disillusion to the search for new mechanisms.

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Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400, USA.


No intervention has been shown to decrease the rate of preterm birth. There was thus a need for a new research agenda. The new emphasis is on social and biological mechanisms, including the impact on stress of racism and poverty, and gene-environment interactions. New markers are also under study, and pertain mostly to infection and inflammation. The impact on preterm birth of broad contextual factors, such as universal social protection, will need to be explored further. The recent trends toward increased rates of preterm births deserve much attention. New policies and interventions to decrease medically indicated preterm births should be urgently developed and evaluated. The failure to prevent preterm deliveries has been so disappointing that there is a risk that high rates of preterm births will be seen as unavoidable. The research programme launched by March of Dimes is a timely effort to foster new enthusiasm, to test new ideas and to generate new hypotheses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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