World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November.
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 (<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.
Around 15 million babies are born prematurely each year, that is 1 in 10 babies born worldwide.
Of these, around 1 million babies die from complications due to prematurity. More than three quarters of these babies could be saved through better access to quality care and medicines for both mother and baby.
Complications of preterm births are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age. Without appropriate treatment, those who survive often face lifelong disabilities, including learning, visual and hearing problems and their quality of life is greatly affected.