Wall Street Journal Article Connects Premature Birth and Infant Deaths

Bayside, NY – An October 2, 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled “Tighter Link Found in Infant Deaths” by Gautam Naik reports that premature birth is “the chief risk factor for about one-third of all infant deaths and a key contributor to the nation’s infant mortality rate.” The findings come after a review of previous statistics indicated that 34% of infant deaths are attributed to premature birth compared to the 17% previously believed.

The article reports, “Medical advances have made it a lot easier to provide specialized care and improve survival rates for babies born too early. St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in New York says it treats an increasing number of tiny infants born prematurely, after they’ve been released from the neonatal intensive care units of area hospitals. Many of the infants have immature lungs and need breathing support. Some develop feeding disorders in later life because their gastrointestinal tracts are less developed.”

St. Mary’s Chief Medical Officer Edwin Simpser, MD, is quoted.

“Survival isn’t the only issue here,” Simpser said. “Many of kids born premature suffer long-term complications including learning and physical disabilities.”

The article concludes by saying, “Public health experts say that prevention methods might be the best long-term fix. St. Mary’s, for example, runs a program that dispatches nurses to the homes of pregnant, high-risk mothers. The nurses monitor the women’s pregnancies and try to persuade them to eat better and quit smoking.”