Prematurity

Prematurity

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Summary

Prematurity happens when a baby is born before 37 weeks’ gestation.

Expanded overview

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.

Causes

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

Symptoms

Some premature babies may have health problems caused by being born early. These problems can include:

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