Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Slight Improvements in Preterm Birth Rates

U.S. Still Behind Other Industrialized Countries

A Global Problem

Worldwide, an estimated 13 million babies are born premature or before 37 weeks' gestation and 1 million die as a result of an early birth.  In the U.S., more than a half million babies are born premature every year. Premature birth is the leading cause of newborn death, and those infants who survive face a risk of several disabilities, including respiratory problems, developmental problems, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities.

The final weeks of pregnancy are critical because an infant’s organs aren’t fully developed until after 37 weeks' gestation. The March of Dimes recommends reducing the risk of premature birth by increasing preconception and prenatal care, reducing smoking, avoiding multiples from fertility treatments, and avoiding unnecessary cesarean deliveries and inductions before 39 weeks of pregnancy.


Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy