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Opinion Pieces, Blog Address Preterm Birth

The following opinion pieces and blog posts address actions to prevent preterm birth, after the publication of a Lancet analysis that examines preterm birth in 39 developed countries. The analysis is meant to “inform a rate reduction target for” the report “Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth,” which was published in May by an international coalition including the World Health Organization, Save the Children, U.S. National Institutes of Health, March of Dimes and other groups.

  • Gary Darmstadt et al., Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: “In low-income countries, where premature infants (or preemies) have a particularly heightened risk of dying, antenatal corticosteroids can save the lives and prevent adverse effects of hundreds of thousands of babies annually,” the authors write, adding, “Smart investments — such as these proven interventions — have the ability to save and dramatically improve the lives of countless mothers and babies, further making the case that international development aid works” (11/14).
  • Jim Larson and Jay Winsten, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “An analysis published today in the Lancet by a coalition of global health organizations concludes that even the best available prevention tools can prevent only five percent of preterm births in developed countries,” Larson, a principal of Boston Consulting Group, and Winsten, associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health, write. “Going forward, robust funding for an aggressive research program on causation and prevention of preterm births will be essential,” they conclude (11/15).
  • Carolyn Miles, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “A distinguished research team led by Save the Children has found that even if the United States and other high-income countries did everything science currently tells us could help, the vast majority of these early births — 95 percent — would continue,” Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, writes. “In contrast, good care at birth allows us to save 99 percent of the half-million preterm babies born in this country each year,” she continues, adding, “Now is the time to get that proven-effective, lifesaving care to the babies who will die without it” (11/15).
  • Luwei Pearson, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog: Because “Africa is such a huge, diverse continent with different cultures, people, beliefs and health systems …, [w]e have to look at each specific setting to identify what works best in that particular community, province and country,” Pearson, chief of health at UNICEF in Ethiopia, writes. “The success of the preterm prevention and management program in Africa will rely on ‘finding the best fit’ in the national effort for improving maternal and newborn health,” she adds (11/15).