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Premature Baby Deaths

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Please add the profiles of babies born before 37 weeks gestation regardless of how long after birth they die.


There is a project for Premature Birth (Prematuritas) Survivors.


A premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks. Almost 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States are premature, or preemies.

There are 2 kinds of classifications: (1) Gestational age less than 37 weeks with same fetal weight for pregnancy (SMK). (2) Gestational age of less than 37 weeks with a small weight for gestation (KMK).

Premature or Preterm births are the most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. In 2013, about one third (36%) of infant deaths were due to causes related to prematurity.

Often, the specific cause of premature birth isn't clear. However, there are known risk factors of premature delivery, including:

  • Having a previous premature birth
  • Multiple miscarriages or abortions
  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
  • Conceiving through in vitro fertilization
  • Problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
  • Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
  • Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
  • Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
  • Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or domestic violence
  • Physical injury or trauma
  • Blood incompatibility

Important growth and development happen throughout pregnancy - especially in the final months and weeks. Many organs, including the brain, lungs, and liver especially need the final weeks of pregnancy to fully develop. Preemies may have health problems because these organs did not have enough time to develop. Because they are born too early, preemies weigh much less than full-term babies which also can lead to problems. The more premature, the more serious the potential health problems & disabilities.

While not all premature babies experience complications, being born too early can cause short-term and long-term health problems. Generally, the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. Birth weight plays an important role, too. Some problems may be apparent at birth, while others may not develop until later. The following are short or long-term complications that a baby born too early MAY experience:

  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding & gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Temperature control problems
  • Brain problems (intraventricular hemorrhage)
  • Blood problems (anemia, jaundice)
  • Metabolism problems (hypoglycemia)
  • Immune system problems (higher risk of infection)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delay (impaired learning)
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Dental problems
  • Behavioral & psychological problems
  • Chronic health issues (such as increased risk of SIDS, infections, asthma, chronic lung disease, feeding problems that develop or persist)

Statistics:

  • Premature birth can happen to anyone. In fact, many women who have a premature birth have no known risk factors.
  • Preterm birth is the most common cause of death among infants worldwide.
  • In 2016, preterm birth affected about 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States.
  • Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth.
  • Most newborns who die, and 40% of older infants who die, were born between 20 and 25.9 weeks (gestational age), during the second trimester.
  • Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born.
  • More than 60% of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia, but preterm birth is truly a global problem. In the lower-income countries, on average, 12% of babies are born too early compared with 9% in higher-income countries. Within countries, poorer families are at higher risk.
  • In India, of 27 million babies born in 2010, 3.5 million (12.9%) were preterm. Prematurity accounted for 10% of neonatal mortality, around 500,000 deaths per year around the world.
  • Preterm birth rates decreased from 2007 to 2014, and CDC research shows that this decline is due, in part, to declines in the number of births to teens and young mothers. However, the preterm birth rate rose for the second straight year in 2016.
  • Racial and ethnic differences in preterm birth rates remain.
    • For unknown reasons, black women are more likely to experience premature birth than are women of other races. For example, in 2016, the rate of preterm birth among African-American women (14%) was about 50 percent higher than the rate of preterm birth among white women (9%).
  • Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation -- 5% to 18% of all deliveries), and this number is rising.
  • Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age and responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.
  • Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
  • Approximately 0.5% of births are extremely early periviable births, and these account for most of the deaths.
  • In 2009 the United States had a higher infant mortality rate than other developed countries mainly due to the higher rate of premature births. More than one-third of infant deaths are related to a premature birth.
  • Babies born too early (especially before 32 weeks) have higher rates of death and disability. In 2015, preterm birth and low birth weight accounted for about 17% of infant deaths.

Survival Rates (depending on sources...)

  • Babies born at 22 weeks is about 6% chance of survival
  • Babies born at 23 weeks have a 17-26% chance of survival
  • Babies born at 24 weeks have a 39-55% chance of survival
  • Babies born at 25 weeks have a 50-72% chance of survival

From 32 weeks onwards, most babies are able to survive with the help of medical Technology [EPICure data]

  • The chances of survival without any long-term difficulties are lower.
  • In the developed world overall survival is about 90% while in low-income countries survival rates are about 10%

Resources & Further Reading:

Jump to Cause of Death portal