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April 09, 2017

In the United States, more than 540,000 babies are born too soon each year. Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is a leading cause of infant death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and others. A March of Dimes report released in October found that 13 million babies worldwide were born preterm, and more than one million die each year.

The research, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, analyzed infant death rates by gestational age for the United States and selected countries in Europe.

While survival rates for premature infants is similar between the United States and European countries, the overwhelming high number of preterm births in the United States drove its infant mortality rate higher. For example, one out of every eight US births are preterm, compared to one out of 16 in Sweden, which had an infant mortality rate of 2.4 for every 1,000 live births.

The report also found that for full-term infants, those born at 37 weeks gestation or more, the United States had the highest infant mortality rate of the 31 nations studied.

SOURCE March of Dimes