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WHO: 1 In 10 Children Born Premature

January 5, 2010

The World Health Organization reports that of the 130 million births worldwide, 1 in 10 births are premature.

While most are in poor countries, a recent report shows high premature birth rates to pre-teens in richer countries.

In Asia, over 70 million births were before the 37-week gestation period and over 40 million is Africa.

But the highest rates of pre-term deliveries against the overall total of births were in Africa, with an average of nearly 12 percent, and North America, with 10.6 percent, according to the article by WHO specialists and researchers.

Evidence from the United States shows that about 50 percent of babies born after gestation periods as short as 22-25 weeks may survive, half of them without serious health problems

However, babies born prematurely in Asia have no access to effective care. For example, a baby born at 32 weeks, weighing less than 2,000 grams, has little chance of survival.

The large numbers of premature births in Asia were largely due to absence of drugs to treat infections suffered by mothers during pregnancy.

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