Research and Philanthropy Leaders Focus Agenda on Preterm Birth— 2nd Leading Cause of Death for Children

Leaders of international philanthropic and research organizations are convening in Seattle to address the global crisis of preterm birth


Leaders of prominent, international philanthropic and research organizations are convening in Seattle July 14-16 to address the global crisis of preterm birth and develop an action roadmap of research priorities and opportunities.

Led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (an initiative of Seattle Children’s), the March of Dimes Foundation, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, attendees will identify specific, strategic areas of research critical for understanding the causes and mechanisms of preterm birth. This knowledge will provide the basis for identifying barriers and developing strategies and solutions to prevent preterm birth.

The summit comes just two months after the release of Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, showing that the number of preterm births around the world has increased to 15 million per year, with more than one million of those babies dying in infancy. As a result, prematurity is now the second-leading cause of death in all children under age five.

In 2009, the International Conference on Prematurity and Stillbirth yielded the Global Action Agenda, a comprehensive set of recommendations that include milestones and success metrics for preventing prematurity and stillbirth and improving related maternal, newborn and child health outcomes.

The meeting, Accelerating Research and Development to Address the Global Crisis of Preterm Birth, will build on the groundwork laid by the Global Action Agenda and the Born Too Soon report, while also exploring the magnitude of the lifelong health problems resulting from preterm birth and determining what is needed for research and development to reduce preterm birth worldwide.

It is a critical time to invest in research in countries with the highest burden and fewest solutions, to advance understanding of the multiple and complex causes of preterm birth, and to test new strategies to prevent preterm birth that are low-cost, practical, and feasible.

  • “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to improving maternal, newborn and child health, and we know that working in partnership to address preterm birth is essential for mothers and their infants around the world to survive and remain healthy.” - Andrew Serazin, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • “We know very little about what actually happens in the womb and why more than one of every 10 babies is born too soon. Given the increasing incidence of premature birth and its lifelong effects, it is critical that this global health crisis is elevated to the forefront of research efforts around the world.” - Craig E. Rubens, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, an initiative of Seattle Children’s
  • “The complex causes and mechanisms of premature birth require a collaborative, integrated course of action. NICHD is pleased to come together with leading institutions and experts in the field to develop a roadmap for reducing the substantial global impact of prematurity and stillbirth on individuals, families, and society.” - Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., Director, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • “The United States has one of the highest rates of preterm birth of any developed country. A coordinated research strategy offers the best hope for developing new strategies for the prevention of preterm birth here and around the world.” - Jennifer L. Howse, Ph.D., President, March of Dimes Foundation

About Seattle Children’s

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Seattle Children’s has been delivering superior patient care while advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit www.seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.