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Infant Mortality from Severely Premature Births Decreased Since 2012, Study Finds

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Researchers at RTI International (RTI), a nonprofit research institute, along with partner universities and national health institutions, found that survival rates for severely premature newborns increased significantly from 76% over the 2008-2012 period to 78.3% in the period from 2013-2018. Although survival rates increased, the researchers found that neurodevelopment impairments were still prevalent.

“While we can celebrate the increase in premature birth survivals, we still have a long way to go to ensure quality of life for those born prematurely,” said Nellie Hansen, senior statistician at RTI.

The data came from 19 U.S. academic centers of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network and used a registry of 10,887 infants, 49% female and 51% male, born between 22 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The researchers then followed up with 2,566 infants at two-years-old “corrected age,” the age the infants would have been if they had been brought to full term. Researchers measured 12 health and functional outcomes, including neurodevelopment, cerebral palsy, vision, hearing, rehospitalizations, and need for assistive devices.

Of those fully assessed on health and functional outcomes, 49.9% had been re-hospitalized and 21.2% suffered severe neurodevelopmental impairment.

The study, “Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and Two-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the United States, 2013-2018,” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). It was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

View the full study