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Preterm Births Still a Mystery

Boston Globe,  Dec 19, 2011

A report published last week in the journal Pediatrics, documenting healthy outcomes for two of the world’s smallest babies, born weighing less than 9 ounces each - provide much needed hope to parents of premature infants. But they also belie the fact that despite lifesaving medical advances, doctors are unable to prevent most premature births from occurring in the first place. For every success story, there are tales of irreversible health problems such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, impaired vision, and chronic lung disease, with one in four premature infants - defined as those born before 37 weeks - experiencing lifelong problems that result from early birth. Massachusetts has one of the highest birth rates of twins and triplets, who are often born premature, since the state mandates health insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization, and more than 30 percent of babies born in Massachusetts are to women over age 35, who are at higher risk of delivering early.

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