Outcomes of preterm infants: morbidity replaces mortality.

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Over the last 50 years in the United States a rising preterm birth rate, a progressive decrease in preterm mortality, and a lowering of the limit of viability have made preterm birth a significant public health problem. Neuromaturation, the functional development of the central nervous system (CNS), is a dynamic process that promotes and shapes CNS structural development. This article reviews preterm outcomes, recognizing that multiple factors influence neuromaturation and lead to a range of neurodevelopmental disabilities, dysfunctions, and altered CNS processing. Ways to protect preterm infants and support their growth and development in and beyond intensive care are examined.

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