This is the VOA Special English Development Report.
We talked last week about a new report on preterm
births -- the leading cause of death in newborn babies worldwide. Each year an estimated thirteen million babies are
born too soon. More than one million of them die as a result of their
prematurity. Yet experts say many early births can be prevented.
report came from the March of Dimes and
Health Organization. Christopher Howson is the vice president for global
programs at the March of Dimes, a nonprofit group. He says there are a number
of simple, low-cost interventions that can improve the chances of a full-term
HOWSON: "We should treat malnutrition in women both before and during pregnancy. We should treat infections that increase risk. We should monitor
pregnancies carefully for signs of trouble. And should that baby be born
preterm, we should care for that baby by providing a package of interventions
that have been shown to be tried and true and very effective."
example, there are programs in Africa that teach the skin-to-skin method, also
known as kangaroo care. Mothers learn to carry preterm babies in front instead
the traditional African way of carrying a baby, on the mother's back.
Skin-to-skin helps keep a preterm baby warm. The direct contact also makes it
easier for the baby to breastfeed.
preterm births take place in Africa and Asia. But rates in the United States
have increased by more than one-third in the last twenty-five years. This is
largely the result of more births in older women and more use of fertility
Fleischman is the medical director of the March of Dimes. He was among a group
of medical experts who met in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The group
met to develop a quality improvement plan for dealing with the problem in the
United States. Doctor Fleischman says there is concern especially about rising
numbers of what are known as late preterm births.
FLEISCHMAN: "Those are the babies who are born between thirty-four and
thirty-seven weeks gestation. Those are the fastest increasing numbers of
prematures. In fact, they are responsible for seventy-two percent of all
prematures in America."
rise of these births may be linked to increased use of drugs to start or speed
up labor and more births by Cesarean section. Doctor Fleischman says the group
strongly advises against these interventions before thirty-nine weeks unless
experts also say doctors need to work with pregnant women to do a better job of
estimating exactly when a pregnancy began.
And that's the VOA
Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. I'm