Premature birth is the birth of a baby before the standard period of pregnancy is completed. It is usually considered when the baby is born sooner than 37 weeks after the beginning of the last menstrual period. The shorter the term of pregnancy, the greater the risks of complications. Infants born prematurely have an increased risk of death in the first year of life, with most of that occurring in the first month of life. While a premature may appear to be a smaller-sized version of a full-term baby, their bodies do not function as a full- term baby because they are immature and are still developing.
11% of all births are premature. This is one in ten women! More than 50% of twins and 90% of triplets are born premature.
23 weeks - 15% chance of viability outside of womb if born prematurely
24 weeks - 56% of babies survive premature birth
25 weeks - 79% of babies survive premature birth
Source: M. Allen et. al., "The Limits of Viability." New England Journal of Medicine. 11/25/93: Vol. 329, No. 22, p. 1597
Extremely low birth-weight infants have "a remarkably favourable outcome. Of sixteen infants weighing 800 gms (1lb, 12 ounces) or less at birth only one turned out to have a handicap that would "interfere with his vocational choice and independence."
Dr. F. Bennett, Family Practice News, 1st June 1982