Review estimates levels of preterm birth in 2014

By Julie Griffiths on 28 December 2018 Premature Birth Newborn The Lancet

A global preterm birth rate has been estimated at 10.6% for 2014, new analysis has found. It equates to an estimated 14.8 million live preterm births. 

The research, which has been published in The Lancet, shows that 12 million (81.1%) of them occurred in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

India, China, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Indonesia accounted for 6.6 million of preterm births globally in 2014.

Preterm birth rates ranged from 13.4% in North Africa to 8.7% in Europe. 

Of the 38 countries with high-quality data, preterm birth rates have increased since 2000 in 26 countries and decreased in 12 countries. 

WHO defines preterm birth as all births before 37 completed weeks of gestation, or fewer than 259 days from the first date of a woman's last period.

Researchers identified 1241 data points across 107 countries. They systematically searched for data on preterm birth for 194 WHO member states from 1990 to 2014 in databases of national civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS). 

They also searched for population-representative surveys and research studies for countries with no or limited CRVS data. 

For 38 countries with high-quality data for preterm births in 2014, data are reported directly. For countries with at least three data points between 1990 and 2014, the researchers used a linear mixed regression model to estimate preterm birth rates. 

The researchers said that preterm birth remained a crucial issue in child mortality and improving quality of maternal and newborn care. 

They said that, to better understand the epidemiology of preterm birth, the quality and volume of data needs to be improved, including standardisation of definitions, measurement, and reporting.

The analysis was funded by WHO and the March of Dimes.

Read the full review here.