What is Prematurity?

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Prematurity is the term used to describe when a baby is born early. For most women, pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks. Babies that are born between 37 and 42 weeks are considered full-term and babies born before 37 weeks are considered premature.

In Australia overall, 8.6% (1 in 10) of all babies are born prematurely and approximately 15% of all babies need admittance into a Newborn Intensive Care Unit or Special Care Nursery.

According to the latest Australia's Mothers and Babies report, of all premature babies born in Australia, approximately:

  • 81% were born between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation.
  • Average gestational age for all pre-term birth was 33.3 weeks.
  • From 2004 to 2014, the proportion of babies born between 37 and 39 weeks increased

Other terms often used for prematurity include ‘premmie’, ‘prem’ and ‘pre-term’. Pre-term birth is associated with a higher risk of neonatal problems.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australia’s mothers and babies 2014—in brief. Perinatal statistics series no. 32. Cat no. PER 87. Canberra: AIHW.

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].