Premature birth: Facts and stats

Facts and figures about premature birth

Did you know?

15 million babies are born too soon each year. That is 29 babies every minute. More than 1 million die. Today, prematurity is the main cause of death in newborn babies.

In the UK, 1 in 13 babies are born preterm. 60,000 families are affected every year.

1 in 10 premature babies will develop a permanent disability such as cerebral palsy, autism, deafness, blindness or serious health conditions in adulthood such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

85% of women who present with threatened preterm labour do not know that they were at risk. For 45-50% of preterm births, the cause is unknown.

If we can prolong all pregnancies destined to deliver preterm by a week, we can save the NHS £260,000,000 a year.

What is prematurity?

Prematurity is the term used to describe all babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. In the UK, a baby is generally considered viable if it is born at 24 weeks, yet their chances of survival is only 50%.

Babies who are born too soon face many challenges. Their internal organs still need to grow and develop, so they need specialist care in a special or intensive neo-natal care unit. The earlier a baby is born the more likely their organs will suffer damage or not develop as they should because they are less mature.

Each day in the womb is essential to a baby’s healthy development and survival. For example, in the UK, if a baby is born at 23 weeks there is a 92% they will have a disability.  If that baby can stay in the womb an extra three weeks and be born at 26 weeks, then there is a 41% of having a disability.

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