One in 9 babies are born too early in the United States each year. Around the world, 15 million babies are born before their 37th week–and these numbers are rising. Preterm birth is about more than just being small. Babies born too early can have life long health consequences including hearing and vision impairment, cerebral palsy and learning disabilities. Prematurity is the leading cause of death in babies less than four weeks of age. And you know what’s worse? According to the World Health Organization, three quarters of these deaths could be prevented, even if there’s not an intensive care unit available.
How do we know a baby is preterm?By the dates. Babies are considered term after they reach 37 weeks. A full term pregnancy is actually 40 weeks gestation.
- Babies born at less than 28 weeks=extremely preterm
- 28-less than 32 weeks=very preterm
- 32-less than 37 weeks=moderate to late preterm
What causes preterm birth?The majority of preterm births happen spontaneously. Sometimes a baby must be delivered early for the baby’s health or the health of the mother–these are less common. For everyone else, experts say that factors like infection, a history of multiple pregnancies, genetics, diabetes and high blood pressure may play a role but no clear-cut cause has ever been determined. Here’s a list of the top 10 countries with the most preterm births.
- India: 3,519, 100
- China: ,1 172, 300
- Nigeria: 773, 600
- Pakistan: 748, 100
- Indonesia: 675, 700
- The United States of America: 517, 400
- Bangladesh: 424, 100
- The Philippines: 348, 900
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo: 341, 400
- Brazil: 279, 300