About 12.8 percent of babies born in the United States (more than half a million a year) are born prematurely — meaning before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. The rate of premature birth has increased a stunning 36 percent since the early 1980s. Seventy percent of premature births are late-preterm babie born between 34 and 36 weeks gestation. These late-preterm births account for almost all of the increase in single premature births, and experts believe that the increase in the rate of cesarean sections is a contributing factor.
More information on causes, risk factors and costs of premature births is available from the March of Dimes, which is sponsoring a symposium on preventing preterm births Oct. 8-9 in Arlington, Va. The discussion will focus on successful quality improvement programs that prevent preterm births, promote health and reduce costs. For information and to register, go to www.marchofdimes.com/conferences
Conference goals include:
• Enhance prematurity prevention efforts in the United States through increased recognition of the importance and efficacy of quality improvement and patient safety programs to reduce prematurity rates.
• Generate action plans for stakeholder groups outlining education and interventions to reduce prematurity.
• Develop an agenda for action to decrease the rate of preterm births that are not inevitable or medically necessary.
The symposium is a collaborative project of the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, and Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Continuing medical education credit will be provided. The early bird registration fee is $200. After Sept. 11, the fee is $250.