Study Ties Race, Sex To Preemies’ Rate of Survival

Joyce Howard Price, Washington Times, Jan. 6, 2006

Black premature baby girls born weighing 2.2 pounds or less are more than twice as likely to survive as white boys born at the same weight, a new study by University of Florida researchers has found.

The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, also revealed that baby girls—black and white alike—had better survival prospects than boys when born weighing less than 2.2 pounds.

Research further showed that black female preemies with such a low birth weight are 1.8 times more likely to survive than their black male counterparts. It also found that premature black girls are 1.3 times more likely to live than premature white girls.

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Dr. Morse said it’s still not clear why female and black premature infants have better chances of survival than boys and white infants born too soon.

But he suggested that part of the explanation could be that female preemies’ lungs tend to be more developed at birth.

Dr. Herman A. Hein, professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa, said prior research has shown that black women tend to have more premature babies than women of other races.

That is “possibly because their babies mature a little earlier and faster,” which could explain why those infants have better odds of survival, he said.

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