World Prematurity Day: the health facts on premature births

World Prematurity Day (17th November) is a day when parents and professionals worldwide come together to raise awareness of the problems that premature birth can bring.

In the UK, 61,000 babies are born early every year, and tragically, around 1,200 of them die as a result of being born too soon.

Prematurity is the biggest killer of babies under one in the UK; after this age, childhood cancer is the biggest cause. Of the babies that do survive extreme prematurity, many can be faced with a bewildering array of health problems.

What is a premature birth?

A premature (or preterm) baby is an infant born earlier than usual, before the mother reaches 37 weeks of pregnancy. The degree of prematurity of babies can be grouped into different categories. The earlier the baby is born, the more health problems that it will generally face. These three categories are:

  • Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
  • Very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
  • Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).


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