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TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Initial implementation of national COVID-19 mitigation measures in the Netherlands was associated with a substantial reduction in the incidence of preterm births in the following months, according to a study published online Oct. 13 in The Lancet Public Health.

Jasper V. Been, Ph.D., from the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues used data from the neonatal dried blood spot screening program and the national perinatal registry to assess the impact of the COVID-19 mitigation measures on the incidence of preterm births. The analysis included 1,599,547 singleton neonates, including 56,720 births that occurred after implementation of COVID-19 mitigation measures on March 9, 2020.

The researchers found consistent reductions in the incidence of preterm birth across various time windows surrounding March 9 (±2 months: odds ratio [OR], 0.77; ±3 months: OR, 0.85; ±4 months: OR, 0.84). Decreases in incidence after the March 15 measures were not statistically significant, and no changes were seen after March 23. Reductions in the incidence of preterm births after March 9 appeared confined to neighborhoods of high socioeconomic status but did not reach statistical significance.

“International collaborative efforts are needed to collate evidence from across the globe to further substantiate these findings and to study the underlying mechanisms,” the authors write. “Such efforts could help uncover new opportunities for preterm birth prevention with substantial effects on global perinatal and public health.”

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