Preemie Rates Drop After 25 Year Increase

Martin said the reduction is not explained by changes in the number of multiple births, even though multiples are traditionally at greater risk of preterm delivery than singletons.

As Holzman noted, research has shown that increases in preterm induction of labor and cesarean delivery contributed to the initial rise in the overall preterm birth rate. Decreases in use of these procedures before 37 weeks may have reduced this rate, the researchers wrote.

Still, they cautioned that although the current preterm birth rate dropped slightly, it is still higher than in any year from 1981 to 2002, and further research is needed "to explain the factors behind the current downturn and develop approaches to help ensure its continued decline."

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