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Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention
Three strategies were combined to identify literature in support of the committee’s charge. First, a search on the EMBASE and Medline databases was conducted to obtain articles from peer-reviewed journals. The searches focused on preterm birth and low birth weight, including their genetic, behavioral, biological, and environmental causes, as well as their economic, educational, health, and family consequences. Second, the reports of federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relevant to preterm birth and low birth weight were also gathered. Finally, committee members and workshop participants submitted articles and reports on those topics. The resulting database included more than 800 articles and reports.
The study committee commissioned three papers intended to provide in-depth information on selected topics, beyond the independent analysis of the literature conducted by the committee. The topics of these papers included geographic variations in rates of preterm birth, prematurity-related ethical issues, and the economic costs associated with preterm birth. The members of the committee determined the topics and the authors of the papers. These papers were not intended to serve as substitutes for the committee’s own review and analysis of the literature. The committee independently deliberated on these topics before it received the drafts of the papers.
The committee hosted three public workshops to gain additional information on specific aspects of the study charge. These workshops were held in conjunction with the March, June, and August meetings. The study committee determined the topics and the speakers.
The first workshop was intended to provide an overview of key issues in the area of preterm birth and to discuss the committee’s charge. Content focused on the biological pathways associated with preterm birth, as well as the educational, economic, and family consequences. Additionally, representatives from the study’s sponsors were invited to discuss the charge to the committee. The second workshop focused on the role of maternal conditions, such as infection, inflammation, and preeclampsia in preterm birth; the epidemiology of preterm birth; public policies that may address the problem of preterm birth; controversial issues in the care of preterm infants; and racial disparities in the rates of preterm birth. The third and final