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U.S. Lags in Global Measure of Preterm Births
Although American hospitals excel at saving premature infants, the United States is similar to developing countries in the percentage of mothers who give birth before their child is due, according to a new study. It does worse than any western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries. That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women over 35 giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization, the authors said. Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies, when problems like high blood pressure or genital infections can be headed off.