Prevalence of Premature Delivery
About 11 percent of all babies are born before 37 weeks gestation. Many premature deliveries occur close to term, and these infants generally do well. Infants born more prematurely than 32 weeks gestation routinely require long hospital stays and may also need attention in a special care nursery.
The risk of complications accelerates as gestational age decreases. Children born 16 weeks prematurely have many more complications than those born eight weeks prematurely.
According the CDC, the preterm birth rate rose two percent in 2004 to 12.5 percent of all births. Over one-half million babies were born preterm in 2004, the highest number reported since gestational age has been available from birth certificates (which began in 1981).
|Incidence of Prematurity|
Gestational Age (Weeks)
Percent of all births
Data from the National Vital Statistics Report (vol. 55, no. 1), published September 29, 2006, by the CDC.