- Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.
- Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015 (1).
- Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented with current, cost-effective interventions.
- Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born.
Preterm is defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
- extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
- very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
- moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).
Induction or caesarean birth should not be planned before 39 completed weeks unless medically indicated.