World health organization

2012 in review: key health issues

An adult hand holding the fingers of a premature baby
Save the children/C. Crowley

15 million babies born too soon every year

Each year, some 15 million babies—more than one in 10—are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed, according to a report by WHO and partners released on 2 May. The Born Too Soon report provided the first-ever national, regional and global estimates of preterm birth. It revealed that preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn deaths worldwide, and that it is on the rise in most countries. Three-quarters of the 1.1 million annual preterm deaths could be avoided using existing, cost-effective interventions such as kangaroo mother care.

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