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Early Births & Life Problems 2006-04-21

Posted by clype in Health, Statistics.

Medical doctors are warning that the trend towards more preterm deliveries could have considerable health implications.

Obstetrician Professor Mr.Andrew Shennan said early delivery can lead to physical and mental health problems, ‘The British Medical Journal’ stated.

Mr.Shennan said physicians and parents should look to see if the number of preterm births can be cut.

The Danish research published by ‘The British Medical Journal’ in 2006-02 found preterm deliveries had increased by 22 per cent (or over one fifth) in the decade between 1995 and 2004. It suggested fertility treatment, multiple pregnancies and elective deliveries were partly to blame for the trend.

But researchers also said factors such as smoking, teenage and middle-age pregnancy, obesity and social inequalities could also play a role. These physicians said that if the trend was being repeated in the UK, the it would be worrying.
Preterm deliveries account for fewer than 10 per cent of births, but result in 75 per cent of neonatal deaths and most neonatal intensive care admissions.

  • For instance, 1 in 4 survivors born less than 25 weeks’ gestation have severe mental or physical disability.
  • Even beyond 32 weeks, 1 in 3 children have educational and behavioural problems by the age of seven.

Mr.Shennan, from King’s College London, added:

Andrew Shennan
‘Obstetricians should re-evaluate the risks and benefits of delivering babies earlier.

‘If these findings from Denmark are true, the implications for neonatologists, health economists, teachers, parents, and children themselves are worrying.

‘Other countries need to ensure that mechanisms are in place to detect such trends and assess their impact.’

And he added if the burden on health was to be reduced, the number of preterm babies needed to reduced where possible, although he said identifying the underlying causes was difficult. But a spokesman for premature baby charity ‘Bliss‘ said:

‘One of the main reasons we are seeing a rise in premature births is because of the improving medical care which means premature babies who would have died 20 years ago are now surviving and are going on to have a good quality of life.

‘While this is good news, we need to make sure that The NHS is increasing the resources put into neonatal care to make sure we can cope with the ever increasing demand.’

Contact ‘Bliss’:

  • Floors 2&3, 9 Holyrood St, London Bridge, London SE1 2EL
  • Tel: (0207) 378 1122
  • Fax:(0207) 403 0673

Contact Andrew Shennan:

  • Tel: (0207) 188 3640


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