Analyzing data from more than 5,000 premature births, UF researchers pinpointed a link between gender and race and the survival rates of babies born at extremely low weights, according to findings released today (Jan. 3) in the journal Pediatrics. It's the first scientific evidence of a phenomenon doctors have observed for years, said Steven B. Morse, M.D., M.P.H., a UF assistant professor of pediatrics and the article's lead author.
Baby girls of both races had the strongest advantage when born weighing less than 1,000 grams, about 2 pounds or as much as a quart of milk, Morse said. Girls had nearly twice the odds of surviving as baby boys did, and black infants also had a slight survival advantage over whites, the research shows. Overall, black baby girls were twice as likely to survive compared with white baby boys, 1.8 times more likely to survive than black boys and 1.3 times more likely to live than white baby girls.
"When you're talking about survival, that's very significant," Morse said. "We have known in general that females tend to have better survival rates than males and blacks better than whites. But quantifying that and finding if there was a statistical significance had yet to be done."
Morse and other researchers from the UF Maternal Child Health Education and Research and Data Center also analyzed the infants' developmental ages and weights at birth, combining these data with race and gender to specify the odds of survival for babies born in each demographic.
Nationwide, nearly a half million babies are born prematurely each year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Only about 1 percent of all babies born weigh less than 2 pounds, and one of the fir
Contact: April Frawley Birdwell
University of Florida