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Health Indicator Report of Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal death in otherwise normal newborns. Babies born preterm also have increased risks for long term morbidities and often require intensive care after birth. Average hospital stays for preterm infants without complications are three times longer than a term infant, and for a preterm birth with complications, hospital stays are over eight times longer. The March of Dimes estimates that each preterm birth carries a cost of $51,600 for medical care, early intervention services, and special education.

Preterm Births (Less Than 37 Weeks Gestation) by Race, Utah, 2013


2013 U.S. data is preliminary.

Data Sources

  • Utah Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health
  • National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The number of live births under 37 weeks gestation divided by the total number of live births over the same time period.


Number of live born infants born less than 37 weeks gestation.


Total number of live births.

Healthy People Objective MICH-9.1:

Total preterm births
U.S. Target: 11.4 percent
State Target: 8.9 percent

How Are We Doing?

Utah's preterm birth percentage increased from 8.8% in 1990 to 10.1% in 2005 and has declined through 2012. Utah's rate is below the Healthy People 2020 Objective of 11.4%.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Nationally, the percentage of preterm births has been declining since 2006, reaching a low of 11.4% in 2013 (preliminary).

What Is Being Done?

Approximately half of preterm births in Utah are due to complications of the pregnancy (multiple births, placental problems, fetal distress, infections) or maternal health factors such as high blood pressure or uterine malformations. The remaining preterm births have unexplained causes. In an effort to reduce the preterm birth rate, emphasis is being placed on maternal preconception health to help women achieve optimal health prior to pregnancy by stopping use of tobacco and alcohol, getting chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure under control, and obtaining an optimal pre-pregnancy weight. Early and continuous prenatal care is encouraged to detect problems that may arise during pregnancy. Standards for assisted reproductive technology should be followed to reduce the frequency of twins or higher order multiple pregnancies. Women should be educated regarding the danger signs of pregnancy and the importance of recognition and treatment for these symptoms. Pregnant women should also be referred for appropriate services such as WIC and psychosocial counseling. Several recent clinical trials have demonstrated a substantial reduction in the rate of recurrent preterm birth in women receiving progesterone supplementation. Pregnant women who have had a previous spontaneous preterm birth, particularly in the immediately preceding pregnancy, should be offered progesterone supplement beginning at 16-20 weeks gestation. Progesterone supplementation has no beneficial effect in reducing preterm birth in women pregnant with multi-fetal pregnancies. It is likely that the ability to more precisely define who is, and is not a candidate for this treatment will be improved in the next few years. In addition, the optimum dosage(s) and method(s) of administration remain uncertain. The maternal intervention group of the Utah Women and Newborn Quality Collaborative (UWNQC) consists of physicians, nurses, and administrators that represent the major healthcare systems, hospitals, State Department of Health and specialty organizations (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Academy of Pediatrics) involved with care of women and their unborn children. Among the group are leaders in the field of preterm birth research and care-providers for women with all levels of risk for preterm birth. The group meets frequently to identify the most important issues to address in the state of Utah to improve the health of women and newborns. In addition, the group will design and implement plans to improve the quality of care provided in our state. The maternal intervention group has identified optimization of 17 alpha hydroxyprogesteronecaproate (17 P) use to prevent recurrent spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB) in women with a previous history of SPTB as the primary focus of our efforts for the next 1-2 years.

Available Services

The Division of Family Health and Preparedness Baby Watch Early Intervention Program Website: University of Utah Hospital's and Clinics Parent to Parent Support Program for families of premature infants. The March of Dimes Newborn Intensive Care Unit Family Support program is located at the University of Utah Hospitals. The Utah Chapter of the March of Dimes is sponsoring a campaign to address prematurity. The Utah Department of Health is a primary partner in this important effort.
Page Content Updated On 11/05/2014, Published on 12/04/2014
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Tue, 01 December 2015 9:26:32 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 19:46:19 MDT