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Premature baby numbers rise

22nd September 2009

A study by researchers at Edinburgh University has shown that the number of premature births has increased, along with babies' survival rates.

Premature Baby

The danger of neonatal death from a premature delivery decreased by more than 50% between 1980 and 2005.

The amount of premature births increased from 54 per 1,000 in 1980-1985 to 63 between 2000-2005. The number of stillbirths connected with premature delivery also decreased by 10%.

The research team looked at information which pertained to nearly 90,000 births in Scotland over the 25-year period.

They found that high blood pressure was the main issue connected with premature births, even though the number of premature deliveries because of the condition went down over the study period.

The number of premature births because of gestational diabetes also increased significantly.

Professor Jane Norman, director of the Tommy's Centre for Maternal and Fetal Health Research at the University of Edinburgh, said: "The increase in survival rates for babies born prematurely backs up decisions by doctors to medically induce births to prevent potential complications."

"The increase in diabetes as a factor in premature births is also interesting and may be because there are more women with pre-existing diabetes - which is linked to obesity - as well as better diagnosis of expectant mothers with gestational diabetes,"she added.

The research was published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. 

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