Understanding Preterm Births

Melody Moran on February 29, 2016

Grace Daughtry foot

Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising. Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born. 

Preterm is defined at babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. There are sub-catebories of preterm birth, based on gestational age: 

Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)

Very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)

Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks)

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year. This is more than 1 in 10 babies. 

Preterm births is something we are very aware of here at Ronald McDonald House Charities of West Georgia, as over 85% of the families staying with us are here due to having a preterm or seriously ill infant being treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Columbus Regional Healthcare's Midtown Medical Center. 

Understanding why these preterm births happen is a major part of reducing these numbers. The World Health Organization and March of Dimes are wonderful resources for learning about preterm births, their cause and what can be done to decrease these alarming numbers. 

Preterm birth occurs for a variety of reasons. Most preterm births happen spontaneously, with no warning or reason, but some are due to early induction of labor or caesarean birth, whether for medical or non-medical reasons. 

The most common cuases of preterm birth include delivery of multiples, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure; however, often no cause is identified. There may also be genetic causes, which were previously unkown to the parents or the healthcare providers. Better understanding of the causes will advance the development of solutions to prevent preterm birth. 

In 2012, WHO (World Health Organization), published a report "Born too soon; the global action report on preterm birth" that included the first-ever estimates of preterm birth by country. They are committed to reducing the health problems and lives lost as a result of preterm birth. 

For more information on preterm birth, please use the following links to WHO and March of Dimes. 

To learn more about Columbus Regional Healthcare and their committment to Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care, please use the following link to their site. 


WHO and Preterm Birth

March of Dimes Preterm Birth Report Card

Columbus Regional Healthcare