Prematurity happens when a baby is born before 37 weeks’ gestation.
What is Prematurity?
Prematurity happens when a baby is born before 37 weeks’ gestation (time spent developing in the mother's womb). Babies who are part of a multiple birth, such as twins, are more likely to be born prematurely.
What are the signs and symptoms of Prematurity?
Some premature babies may have health problems caused by being born early. These problems can include:
- Bleeding in the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage)
- Breathing problems and lung conditions
- Feeding problems
- Heart problems
- Hypotonia (poor muscle tone)
- Infections, including sepsis
- Intestinal disorders
- Low birth weight (less than five pounds)
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
What are the causes of Prematurity?
Some of the reasons a baby may be born prematurely include:
- Abnormally shaped uterus, including heart shaped
- Early rupture of the amniotic sac (water breaking)
- Cervical incompetence (a cervix that opens before the end of pregnancy)
- Chronic medical condition of the mother, such as diabetes or heart disease
- Infection in the mother, including group B strep
- Multiples birth (twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc.)
- Placenta abruption (early detachment of the placenta from the uterus)
- Placenta previa (low lying placenta)
- Polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid)
- Preeclampsia in the mother (high blood pressure of pregnancy)
- Prenatal drug exposure