Chairman Sanford: Dr. Herman N. Bundesen, Commissioner of Health of Chicago, organized 12 years ago the "Chicago Premature Plan." This consists in registering all premature infants with the City Health Department within a few hours after birth. The premature infant who is born at home, or in a hospital that does not have adequate premature care, is transported in an oxygenated incubator ambulance to a hospital which specializes in such care.
From 1936 to 1947 premature infant deaths in Chicago have been lowered 6½%. The full term infant death rate during the same period has been lowered about 3%. Inasmuch as the premature death rate has been lowered about double that of the full term infant rate, we believe this procedure has been the cause of reduction. In 1936 there were 47,000 live births in Chicago. In 1947 there were 82,000, or an increase of 80%. In this number the full term infants increased from 45% to 60%, whereas the premature infants increased from 2000 to over 5000, or about 140% increase of premature infants born in Chicago during the last 10 years.
This adds a considerable increase to the number of infants for our available premature infants beds. Where formerly we planned 5 premature births to each 100 full term births, we now find that prematures have increased to 8 per 100 full term infants.
Causes of prematurity are multiple births, toxemia, heart disease, syphilis, tuberculosis, infections, accidents, premature separation of the placenta and abnormalities of the reproduction tract. It is generally understood that there is a tendency for more premature births among the Negro race than the white race.
- Copyright © 1951 by the American Academy of Pediatrics