Preterm birth (prematurity): the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gestational age
- Worldwide over 13 million babies are born prematurely every year.
- Preterm birth is the biggest cause of infant mortality in the United States and much of the world. Each year, over 1 million of these children do not survive.
- Women in Africa, the United States and Canada are at the highest risk for preterm birth. In the United States alone, 12.8% of babies born last year were born prematurely. That's over 542,000 babies born before 37 weeks.
- In the United States, the rate of preterm birth has increased 36 percent in the last 25 years. Worldwide, preterm birth has increased 30 percent in the last 25 years.
- The survival rate of babies born at 25 weeks gestation is 50%. For babies born at 23 weeks gestation, the survival rate is only 17%.
- 1 in 10 babies born prematurely are at risk for a life-long disability such as lung disease or cerebral palsy.
- Health challenges faced by premature infants include: low birth weight, underdeveloped organs, breathing issues.
- Premature infants are at greater risk for life threatening infections, respiratory distress syndrome, cerebral palsy, and developmental delays and disabilities.
- In the United States, care of an average preterm infant is $49,000 for the first year. In relation, the cost of care for a full term infant is only $4,551. For full term infants with health complications, the average cost of care for the first year is $10,273. In 2003, the United States alone spent over $10 billion for prematurity associated health costs.
- For a premature infant with health complications such as spina bifida, the average lifetime cost of health care is over $1 million.
- In 2009, the March of Dimes invested over $20 million to eliminate premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality around the world.
To learn more about prematurity, please visit the March of Dimes Resource Library.
*Statistics and Information obtained from the WHO and March of Dimes.