FIVE basic measures could save 230 babies a year from the risks of being born prematurely, a major new international study reveals, writes Eilish O'Regan.
The current pre-term birth rate in Ireland is 6.4pc, which means 4,500 Irish babies are born too early annually. It is the leading cause of infant death, leaving children at risk of serious health problems.
However, five measures – including reductions in smoking and planned caesarean sections – could reduce the rate by 3pc by 2015.
"The biggest effect in Ireland would come from one of the five interventions, which is more use of cerclage, which is a surgical operation that can prevent pre-term birth in some women," the lead author, Dr Joy Lawn of the Save the Children organisation said.
The remaining measures include reducing the number of embryo transfers during fertility treatment and prescribing the hormone progesterone for suitable women.