Preterm Births Three Times More Common In Western Australia Than China
By Rebecca Lim | Health & Medicine
July 30, 2011
Preterm birth is almost three times more likely in women from Western Australia compared to women in China, according to a new study from the two countries.
AsianScientist (Jul. 30, 2011) – Preterm birth is almost three times more likely in women from Western Australia compared to women in China, according to a new joint study by researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and China.
The study, led by Winthrop Professor John Newnham from UWA’s School of Women’s and Infants’ Health, also found that the rate of preterm birth increased as women move to a more Western environment, with Chinese women recording lower rates of preterm births than women in Hong Kong or Western Australia.
The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, defined preterm birth as birth after 24 completed weeks and before 37 completed weeks of gestation.
Researchers in Perth, Hong Kong, and Nanjing examined records of 26,611 pregnancies in China’s rural Jiangsu Province, 48,976 pregnancies in Hong Kong, and 185,798 pregnancies in Western Australia.
In Jiangsu Province, one of the largest provinces in China with a population of 77 million, just 2.6 percent births were recorded as preterm in urban areas and 2.9 percent in rural parts.
The rate of preterm birth among non-resident Chinese women in Hong Kong was 5.6 percent and 7.6 percent for Hong Kong residents.
In Western Australia, the rate of preterm birth was significantly lower in Chinese women who had been born in China (4.4 percent) compared to the general rate for women in WA (8.2 percent).
Professor Newnham said the rising rate of preterm birth in Chinese women as they moved to more Western environments suggested that behavior and lifestyle may be significant factors associated with preterm birth.
“The results of this study may help with the prevention of preterm birth by studying populations that have low rates rather than focusing on those with the highest rates,” he said. “The results also suggest that recent major economic and social advances in China may bring with them an increase in the rate of preterm birth.”
Source: University of Western Australia.
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