What is Premature Birth?
The duration of most pregnancies is usually about 40 weeks but it is quite normal for a baby to be born a week or two earlier. However, when a baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation, it is said to be a premature birth and such babies are known as premature babies or preemies. Prematurity is a leading cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity.
Premature babies born around 36 to 37 weeks of gestation may be relatively free from complications, whereas those born much before the due dates are more likely to have serious problems which may require management in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Babies born before 24 weeks have less of a chance of survival. Complications usually arise as a result of immaturity of the lungs and other organs which have not yet developed fully at the time of birth and which may not be ready to function outside the uterus.
Early and regular prenatal care can reduce the risk of a premature birth.