A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, yet some babies arrive sooner. A premature birth is a birth that takes place before the 37th week of pregnancy. While some premature babies have serious medical complications or long-term health problems, many also go on to live normal healthy lives. With modern medicine and new technologies, babies are often able to survive when born earlier during the pregnancy. The dedicated staff in hospital neonatal intensive care units NICU and advancements in neonatal care have also improved outcomes.
Premature Birth Complications: Short and Long-Term Health Effects
Please sign in or sign up for a March of Dimes account to proceed. Babies born prematurely may have more health problems at birth and later in life than babies born later. Premature babies can have long-term intellectual and developmental disabilities and problems with their lungs, brain, eyes and other organs. Finding and treating health problems as early as possible can help premature babies lead, healthier lives. Premature birth is birth that happens too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Because premature babies are born before they are physically ready to leave the womb, they often have health problems. These newborns have higher rates of disabilities such as cerebral palsy and even death. African Americans and Native Americans have the highest neonatal death rate associated with prematurity.
It has been proposed that during human evolution, development of obligate bipedalism, narrow birth canal cross-sectional area and the large brain have forced an adjustment in duration of pregnancy scaling of gestational age; Plunkett Children compared to other mammals are born with proportionally small brains compared to adult brains , suggesting shortening of pregnancy duration during recent evolution. Prevalence of both obstructed delivery and premature birth is still exceptionally high.