In addition to preterm birth being responsible for 35% of the 3.1 million yearly deaths, its comorbidities continue throughout life, impairing normal neurodevelopment and increasing the chances of numerous noncommunicable diseases, thus inflicting a heavy burden on families, society and the health care system. As a matter of fact, the statistical data collected from various European countries demonstrate the enormous, and increasing, financial burden associated with prematurity in Europe reaching the amount of several billions per year. This lifetime cost estimates only include infants with major neurodevelopmental disabilities already diagnosed at birth, without taking into account other long-term morbidities or even its vast socio-economic consequences like the costs of the caregivers for individuals with

disabilities, out-of-pocket payments for education or loss of earnings during childhood, future lost productivity in the household and the labor force etc. Measures to prevent preterm birth on a global scale in a clinically significant way have so far been ineffective. It therefore becomes increasingly important to improve outcomes in those preterm infants currently being born. A better understanding of the association between gestational age at birth and various mental and non-mental pathological phenotypes could help us implement new approaches to prevention, restricting the deleterious effects of premature birth that burden preterm individuals throughout life, promoting a better quality of life for millions of people.


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