Preterm birth is one of the top causes of infant death in this country. NICHD-supported research is examining the causes of preterm labor and birth, as well as associated risk factors and health disparities. Researchers are seeking ways to prevent preterm labor and birth and to prolong pregnancy in women at risk of preterm birth. Researchers also are identifying markers and predictors of preterm labor and preterm birth. In addition, NICHD-supported investigators and research networks are studying ways to improve survival and minimize disabilities among infants born too early.
The NICHD collaborates with many other governmental agencies, foundations, and other entities in an effort to understand and prevent preterm labor and birth. The NICHD served as the scientific lead for the pivotal Surgeon General's Conference on Preventing Preterm Birth, which brought together the nation's scientific, medical, public health, public policy, and community sectors in 2008 to collaborate on developing a national agenda and action plan aimed at preventing preterm birth.