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Born Toon Soon: Preterm birth matters

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      Urgent action is needed to address preterm birth given that the first country-level estimates show that globally 15 million babies are born too soon and rates are increasing in most countries with reliable time trend data. As the first in a supplement entitled "Born Too Soon", this paper focuses on the global policy context. Preterm birth is critical for progress on Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG) for child survival by 2015 and beyond, and gives added value to maternal health (MDG 5) investments also linking to non-communicable diseases. For preterm babies who survive, the additional burden of prematurity-related disability may affect families and health systems. Prematurity is an explicit priority in many high-income settings; however, more attention is needed especially in low- and middle-income countries where the invisibility of preterm birth as well as its myths and misconceptions have slowed action on prevention and care. Recent global attention to preterm birth hit a tipping point in 2012, with the May 2 publication of Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth and with the 2nd annual World Prematurity Day on November 17 which mobilised the actions of partners in many countries to address preterm birth and newborn health. Interventions to strengthen preterm birth prevention and care span the continuum of care for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Both prevention of preterm birth and implementation of care of premature babies require more research, as well as more policy attention and programmatic investment.DeclarationThis article is part of a supplement jointly funded by Save the Children's Saving Newborn Lives programme through a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and March of Dimes Foundation and published in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). The original article was published in PDF format in the WHO Report "Born Too Soon: the global action report on preterm birth (ISBN 978 92 4 150343 30). The article has been reformatted for journal publication and has undergone peer review according to Reproductive Health's standard process for supplements and may feature some variations in content when compared to the original report. This co-publication makes the article available to the community in a full-text format.

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      Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.

      Measuring disease and injury burden in populations requires a composite metric that captures both premature mortality and the prevalence and severity of ill-health. The 1990 Global Burden of Disease study proposed disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) to measure disease burden. No comprehensive update of disease burden worldwide incorporating a systematic reassessment of disease and injury-specific epidemiology has been done since the 1990 study. We aimed to calculate disease burden worldwide and for 21 regions for 1990, 2005, and 2010 with methods to enable meaningful comparisons over time. We calculated DALYs as the sum of years of life lost (YLLs) and years lived with disability (YLDs). DALYs were calculated for 291 causes, 20 age groups, both sexes, and for 187 countries, and aggregated to regional and global estimates of disease burden for three points in time with strictly comparable definitions and methods. YLLs were calculated from age-sex-country-time-specific estimates of mortality by cause, with death by standardised lost life expectancy at each age. YLDs were calculated as prevalence of 1160 disabling sequelae, by age, sex, and cause, and weighted by new disability weights for each health state. Neither YLLs nor YLDs were age-weighted or discounted. Uncertainty around cause-specific DALYs was calculated incorporating uncertainty in levels of all-cause mortality, cause-specific mortality, prevalence, and disability weights. Global DALYs remained stable from 1990 (2·503 billion) to 2010 (2·490 billion). Crude DALYs per 1000 decreased by 23% (472 per 1000 to 361 per 1000). An important shift has occurred in DALY composition with the contribution of deaths and disability among children (younger than 5 years of age) declining from 41% of global DALYs in 1990 to 25% in 2010. YLLs typically account for about half of disease burden in more developed regions (high-income Asia Pacific, western Europe, high-income North America, and Australasia), rising to over 80% of DALYs in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1990, 47% of DALYs worldwide were from communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders, 43% from non-communicable diseases, and 10% from injuries. By 2010, this had shifted to 35%, 54%, and 11%, respectively. Ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of DALYs worldwide in 2010 (up from fourth rank in 1990, increasing by 29%), followed by lower respiratory infections (top rank in 1990; 44% decline in DALYs), stroke (fifth in 1990; 19% increase), diarrhoeal diseases (second in 1990; 51% decrease), and HIV/AIDS (33rd in 1990; 351% increase). Major depressive disorder increased from 15th to 11th rank (37% increase) and road injury from 12th to 10th rank (34% increase). Substantial heterogeneity exists in rankings of leading causes of disease burden among regions. Global disease burden has continued to shift away from communicable to non-communicable diseases and from premature death to years lived with disability. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, many communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional disorders remain the dominant causes of disease burden. The rising burden from mental and behavioural disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and diabetes will impose new challenges on health systems. Regional heterogeneity highlights the importance of understanding local burden of disease and setting goals and targets for the post-2015 agenda taking such patterns into account. Because of improved definitions, methods, and data, these results for 1990 and 2010 supersede all previously published Global Burden of Disease results. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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        Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality: an updated systematic analysis for 2010 with time trends since 2000.

        Information about the distribution of causes of and time trends for child mortality should be periodically updated. We report the latest estimates of causes of child mortality in 2010 with time trends since 2000. Updated total numbers of deaths in children aged 0-27 days and 1-59 months were applied to the corresponding country-specific distribution of deaths by cause. We did the following to derive the number of deaths in children aged 1-59 months: we used vital registration data for countries with an adequate vital registration system; we applied a multinomial logistic regression model to vital registration data for low-mortality countries without adequate vital registration; we used a similar multinomial logistic regression with verbal autopsy data for high-mortality countries; for India and China, we developed national models. We aggregated country results to generate regional and global estimates. Of 7·6 million deaths in children younger than 5 years in 2010, 64·0% (4·879 million) were attributable to infectious causes and 40·3% (3·072 million) occurred in neonates. Preterm birth complications (14·1%; 1·078 million, uncertainty range [UR] 0·916-1·325), intrapartum-related complications (9·4%; 0·717 million, 0·610-0·876), and sepsis or meningitis (5·2%; 0·393 million, 0·252-0·552) were the leading causes of neonatal death. In older children, pneumonia (14·1%; 1·071 million, 0·977-1·176), diarrhoea (9·9%; 0·751 million, 0·538-1·031), and malaria (7·4%; 0·564 million, 0·432-0·709) claimed the most lives. Despite tremendous efforts to identify relevant data, the causes of only 2·7% (0·205 million) of deaths in children younger than 5 years were medically certified in 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, the global burden of deaths in children younger than 5 years decreased by 2 million, of which pneumonia, measles, and diarrhoea contributed the most to the overall reduction (0·451 million [0·339-0·547], 0·363 million [0·283-0·419], and 0·359 million [0·215-0·476], respectively). However, only tetanus, measles, AIDS, and malaria (in Africa) decreased at an annual rate sufficient to attain the Millennium Development Goal 4. Child survival strategies should direct resources toward the leading causes of child mortality, with attention focusing on infectious and neonatal causes. More rapid decreases from 2010-15 will need accelerated reduction for the most common causes of death, notably pneumonia and preterm birth complications. Continued efforts to gather high-quality data and enhance estimation methods are essential for the improvement of future estimates. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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          Epidemiology and causes of preterm birth.

          This paper is the first in a three-part series on preterm birth, which is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality in developed countries. Infants are born preterm at less than 37 weeks' gestational age after: (1) spontaneous labour with intact membranes, (2) preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), and (3) labour induction or caesarean delivery for maternal or fetal indications. The frequency of preterm births is about 12-13% in the USA and 5-9% in many other developed countries; however, the rate of preterm birth has increased in many locations, predominantly because of increasing indicated preterm births and preterm delivery of artificially conceived multiple pregnancies. Common reasons for indicated preterm births include pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction. Births that follow spontaneous preterm labour and PPROM-together called spontaneous preterm births-are regarded as a syndrome resulting from multiple causes, including infection or inflammation, vascular disease, and uterine overdistension. Risk factors for spontaneous preterm births include a previous preterm birth, black race, periodontal disease, and low maternal body-mass index. A short cervical length and a raised cervical-vaginal fetal fibronectin concentration are the strongest predictors of spontaneous preterm birth.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]March of Dimes, White Plains, NY, USA
            [2 ]Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children, Cape Town, South Africa
            [3 ]The Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Geneva, Switzerland
            [4 ]MARCH, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
            [5 ]Saving Newborn Lives/Save the Children
            Author notes
            the Born Too Soon Preterm Birth Action Group
            Reprod Health
            Reprod Health
            Reproductive Health
            BioMed Central
            15 November 2013
            : 10
            : Suppl 1
            : S1
            Copyright © 2013 Howson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


            Obstetrics & Gynecology


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