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Preterm infants show mortality risks as children, adults

Death rates in early adulthood higher than for people born at full term

3:51pm, September 20, 2011

Infants born prematurely face a higher risk of dying in early adulthood than babies born at full term, researchers report. The higher mortality risk also shows up earlier in life, when the preterm babies are preschool age, scientists report in the Sept. 21 Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study is among the first to gauge the effects of preterm birth on mortality in a large population of adults, says Saroj Saigal, a neonatologist at McMaster University School of Medicine in Hamilton, Ontario, who wasn’t involved in the research. “This is an extremely important paper. It shows that prematurity has lifelong implications.”

The researchers analyzed a birth registry of more than 670,000 people born in Sweden from 1973 to 1979 and matched that information with the country’s death registry through 2008. The scientists took note of the gestational age of nearly 28,000 preterm babies, defined as births occurring less than 37 w

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