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What is prematurity/preterm birth?

The birth of a baby before 37 weeks gestation or 3 weeks before the estimated due date.

There are sub-categories of prematurity, based on gestational age:

  • extremely preterm/micropreemie(less than 28 weeks)
  • very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
  • moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).

Fast Facts about prematurity:

-1 in 10 babies are born premature. The current premature birth rate in the US is 10.02% (Reference: National Center for Health Statistics)

-Every year an estimated 15 million babies are born premature and this number continues to rise.

-Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 globally and is responsible for approximately 1 million deaths per year.

-Preterm birth can be dangerous, particularly if the infant is not fully developed by delivery. The final weeks and months of pregnancy are critical for the growth and development of major organ systems in babies, including the brain, lungs and liver. The risk of death increases the earlier a baby is born.

-Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant mortality and-can also lead to lasting developmental and physical disabilities including breathing and feeding difficulties, hearing and vision problems, cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

-Effects of prematurity can persist through childhood and into adolescence. Cognitive and behavioral deficits in areas such as attention, visual processing, emotional control and social interaction are possible.

Want to know where your state ranks in premature births?

Click here:

NICU/Preemie Apps

For the families of critically ill and premature babies, the NICU can be a confusing blur of equipment, sounds, and terminology. Now March of Dimes is helping to change that by providing a one-stop shop of information and support for families with its new My NICU Baby™ app. Using the My NICU Baby app, families will have the resources they need in their hand to help them cope with the NICU experience as well as the transition to home.The app is free and available for Android devices by clicking here and iOS devices by clicking here. Created by experts and parents and designed to inform, comfort, organize and engage, the Graham's Foundation's MyPreemie app for preemie families promotes parent well-being and engagement in the NICU and beyond. It features a Pocket Guide to Prematurity (easy to understand explanations of common health and developmental issues, equipment in the NICU, medical procedures, and the specialists you’ll meet), a Developmental Tracker (lets you easily input your child’s growth stats) a Personal Organizer and more. iOS users click here and Android users click here to download.

Prematurity Organizations

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. For 80 years, March of Dimes has helped millions of babies survive and thrive and has advocated for policies that prioritize their health. They support radical improvements to the care mothers and babies receive, fund and pioneer research to find solutions to their biggest health threats like prematurity and provide comfort and support to families in the NICU. Graham's Foundation was created to empower parents of premature babies to help improve outcomes for their preemies and themselves. Their support programs are designed to meet the unique needs of families after preterm birth, during the NICU stay, the transition home, and remembrance care package programs.They have also curated the MyPreemie app which is a leader in prematurity based apps(see folder for apps). Penelope Project is a non-profit dedicated to those families whose babies come way before their due dates. Their mission is to provide support and education to help alleviate stress of NICU families. Virtual NICU support groups are held every first and third Thursday of the month and are facilitated by veteran NICU parents.

Maternal Health Resources

Curious about what Preeclampsia is and its warning signs?

What is HELLP syndrome?

Have you suffered from preeclampsia or another hypertensive disease of pregnancy and would like to help further preeclampsia research? Sign up for the Preeclampsia Registry:

Want to know why I advocate so hard for maternal health? Check out these fact sheets and statistics: