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preterm birth

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Why we know so little about preterm births and what experts want to do about it.
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It's a high-stakes problem lawmakers across the country are increasingly trying to address.
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Doctors are debating whether to lower the blood-sugar threshold for determining whether a woman has with gestational diabetes. If that happens the number of pregnant women treated for gestational diabetes could more than double.

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Premature birth is a global killer. Leaving the womb too early accounts for more than 1 million infant deaths each year, the latest data reveals, almost half of all newborn mortality worldwide. But it’s not just the toll on newborns that increasingly concerns health experts.

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Racial disparity in baby death rates is not a new subject. It's a complex, insiduous, and, at times, inflammatory, issue. In my corner of the world, there are communities where the baby death rate is nearly three times the national norm.

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Dr. Paula Braveman is a professor of family and community medicine at UCSF and director of the university's Center on Social Disparities in Health. A member of the federal Institute of Medicine, she has studied socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in maternal and infant health and health care for two decades. Her work also has focused on developing practical methods for ongoing, policy-oriented monitoring of disparities at local, state and national levels using routine data sources in the U.S. and other countries.

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