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Annu Rev Public Health. 2011;32:367-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-090810-182459.

Prematurity: an overview and public health implications.

Author information

1
Department of Society, Human Development and Health, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. mmccormi@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

The high rate of premature births in the United States remains a public health concern. These infants experience substantial morbidity and mortality in the newborn period, which translate into significant medical costs. In early childhood, survivors are characterized by a variety of health problems, including motor delay and/or cerebral palsy, lower IQs, behavior problems, and respiratory illness, especially asthma. Many experience difficulty with school work, lower health-related quality of life, and family stress. Emerging information in adolescence and young adulthood paints a more optimistic picture, with persistence of many problems but with better adaptation and more positive expectations by the young adults. Few opportunities for prevention have been identified; therefore, public health approaches to prematurity include assurance of delivery in a facility capable of managing neonatal complications, quality improvement to minimize interinstitutional variations, early developmental support for such infants, and attention to related family health issues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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