Boys born very prematurely are more likely to die than girls and also at higher risk of developing blindness and deafness, an Australian study has found.
“In the modern era of neonatal management, male infants still have higher mortality and poorer long-term neurologic outcome,” lead researcher Alison Kent, of Canberra Hospital and the Australian National University Medical School, said.
The journal Pediatrics published the study, which involved more than 2,500 infants — 1,394 of them boys. The results were close, but significant, as 23 percent of the premature boys died in the hospital, compared to 19 percent of the girls. Further, the boys had a 20-percent rate of developing neurological problems, while the girls had a 12-percent rate.
If a baby is born prior to the 37th week of pregnancy, he or she is “preterm.” If birth takes place prior to the 34th week, that is “early preterm.” The findings relate to “early preterm” boys.
The regular pregnancy duration is 40 weeks.
Kent said it remains unclear why early birth is more dangerous for boys.
“There is evidence that there are sex differences in how the brain responds to injury, which may account for the differences in neurological outcome,” she said.