Important Facts for Very Preterm Birth
DefinitionA typical pregnancy last around 40 weeks. Babies that are born between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy are called full term. Babies that are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are called premature. Babies that are born between 22 and 32 weeks of pregnancy are called very premature. About 12.5 percent of babies (more than half a million per year) in the United States are born prematurely. For reasons that are not fully understood, the rate of premature birth has increased by more than 30 percent since 1981.
NumeratorNumber of live infant births occurring before 32 weeks of gestation during a specific time period.
DenominatorTotal number of live infant births during a specific time period.
Why Is This Important?Premature birth is a serious health problem. Premature babies are at an increased risk for newborn health complications, as well as lasting disabilities such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung and gastrointestinal problems, vision and hearing loss, and even death. Poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are dependent on a variety of different factors. Some of these factors are well known while many others have not been identified. Some known risk factors for having poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are pregnancy history, exposures to infections, exposure to environmental chemicals, poor medical care, chronic health issues, socioeconomic factors, and the use of medicines, alcohol, drugs or tobacco.
Healthy People Objective MICH-9.4:Reduce very preterm or live births at less than 32 weeks of gestation
U.S. Target: 1.8 percent