On Monday, November 17, people around the world celebrated World Prematurity Day, and the month of November marks World Prematurity Month. Babies born prematurely are at risk not only for death, but also for many severe and chronic medical disorders, including brain damage, lung disease, intestinal injury, blindness, hearing loss, cerebral palsy and failure to grow. And unfortunately, about 12 percent of pregnancies, or one in eight infants, deliver early in the United States every year.
Around the world…
- 15 million babies are born too soon
- Premature birth kills 1 baby every 30 seconds
- More children die as a result of being born too soon than from AIDS, malaria or diarrhea
The goal of World Prematurity Day is to raise awareness of premature birth, educate women about how they can plan and actually have healthy pregnancies, educate front-line workers on available resources to prevent prematurity, and to fund research that might one day help put an end to premature birth.
The Center for Prevention of Preterm Birth at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) is on a mission to stop such early births from occurring in the first place. Center director Louis Muglia, MD, PhD, and his team work to identify and address causes of preterm birth, from the molecular pathways that affect the timing of birth to the epidemiologic trends influencing pregnancy. It's much needed research, given that the causes of preterm birth are often unknown.
The Center works carefully with the March of Dimes, which is providing $10 million over 5 years to help support the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center Ohio Collaborative, a transdisciplinary research effort to study the unknown causes of preterm birth. The Collaborative, led by Dr. Muglia, is coordinated out of CCHMC and includes investigators from leading academic and medical institutions across the state of Ohio. The March of Dimes also supports a similar transdisciplinary center at Stanford University and has just announced the launch of two new centers at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania.