It refers to the birth of a baby before 37 weeks which is the usual gestational age, or before the organs are fully developed to allow normal survival. According to the WHO, every year an estimated 15 million babies are born premature or preterm and over 1 million babies die due to preterm birth complications. Premature births are in fact the leading cause of death in newborn babies.
They are mostly due to early induction of labour or caesarean birth. Multiple pregnancies, infections, early adolescent pregnancies, diabetes, addcition and high blood pressure are believed to be responsible for preterm births though no medical consensus has been reached yet. There’s also enough evidence to suggest that early pregnancies or less gap between two pregnancies are responsible for preterm births.
The complications increase depending on the term of pregnancy. Infant mortality or death within the first year is the greatest danger. India has the maximum number of preterm births with 3,519,100 of them, almost 24% of the total number. Premature births also often result in brain damage and development delays. To reduce preterm birth rates, women – especially adolescents – need better access to family planning and increased empowerment, as well as improved care before, between and during pregnancies.