Pregnancy is a special stage in a mother's life; however, it can also bring nervousness to a mother regarding her baby's health. Often, pregnant women worry about having a severely premature birth. According to MayoClinic.com, "a premature birth takes place more than three weeks before the due date," that is, before the 37th week of pregnancy, causing the baby to have less time to develop.
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Most babies do not survive if they are born before the 24th week of pregnancy. BBC News notes that "babies born above 24 and 25 weeks gestation were more likely to live." One reason many premature babies die is due to the lack of brain and lung development; however, there have been cases of babies who have survived before the 24th week of pregnancy. Moreover, severely premature babies need long-term care and support.
According to the latest bulletin of the World Health Organization on preterm birth, "9.6% of all births were preterm in 2005, which translates to about 12.9 million births definable as preterm." Africa and Asia had 10.9 million premature births, Europe and North America had 0.5 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean had 0.9 million. Consequently, the bulletin further explains, "The highest rates occurred in Africa and North America, where 11.9% and 10.6%, respectively, of the births were preterm."
Some of the causes of preterm birth are directly linked to sicknesses such as Preeclampsia, Antepartum haemorrhage, Uterine abnormalities and Hydramnios (excess of amniotic fluid around the foetus). Other risk factors include: Twins, smoking, drinking, drugs, poor nutrition, stress, physical injury and multiple pregnancies.
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- MayoClinic.com: Premature Birth: Definition.
- BBC News: Prem baby survival rates revealed.
- World Health Organization: The worldwide incidence of preterm birth: a systematic review of maternal mortality and morbidity.
- WrongDiagnosis.com: Causes of premature birth.
- MayoClinic.com: Premature Birth: Risk Factors.