Preemie Facts

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.