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Early birth savings

A whopping $3 billion could be saved if the world’s highest-income countries adopted five relatively straightforward measures to reduce their numbers of premature births.

So says a report published in November to coincide with World Prematurity Day, which analyzed premature-birth records from around the world.

If 39 of the world’s highest-income countries carried out the recommendations, which include encouraging women to stop smoking during pregnancy, limiting the number of embryo transfers in assisted reproductive technologies, and reducing the number of caesarean births and induced labors, they could reduce by 5 percent the number of babies born prematurely.

Although this only equates to 58,000 births – a drop in the ocean compared with the 115 million babies born prematurely each year – it would translate to $3 billion of savings associated with preterm care and estimated lost household income, say the authors of the report (The Lancet, doi.org/jsh).

New Scientist Magazine