Preterm birth

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  • What is preterm labor?

What is preterm labor?

Preterm birth occurs in a gestational period between the 20th and 37th week of pregnancy. The baby born in this way is called "premature" and because the normal development process has not been completed, its organs they are not ready yet to face the extrauterine life.

For this reason, if labor begins before 37 weeks, attempts are made to stop it pharmacologically.

Preterm delivery can be classified as late (if the baby is born between the 34th and 37th week), severe (25th and 33rd) ed extreme (before the 25th week).

Read also: The dictionary of pregnancy

The risks

Preterm birth involves serious health risks for the newborn, who comes into the world underweight and with organs not yet adapted to the outside world. In Del Paese 99% of subjects survive, but although this condition has a high recovery rate, there is 20% who develop behavior disorders o mild intellectual delays (eg: difficulty in expressing or reduced calculation skills).

However, Vo is also 5-10% of cases in which the consequences are heavier. In fact, some premature babies can meet cerebral palsy, vision changes (if not blindness) e hearing, as well as major cognitive delays.

Premature babies are also exposed to a respiratory disorder known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, that is a form of chronic lung disease that occurs following the arrest of lung development: this condition can also last over the long term, up to school age or even adulthood. 


Among causes recognized that could involve preterm birth there are infections, a diminished blood supply to the uterus or placenta, the uterine overdistension, maternal autoimmune diseases or allergic andincontinence of the uterine cervix.

When treating a premature baby, it is therefore important to consider all the information relating not only to the moment of delivery, but also to the overall progress of the pregnancy.

FONTI: National Center of Biotechnology Information; Up to Date

Questions and answers

What are the risks of a preterm birth

The risks for a preterm baby - net of the various degrees of severity for individual cases - include respiratory complications, cognitive disabilities, impaired visual and auditory faculties, even death

How soon can you give birth?

Preterm delivery is defined as delivery that occurs between the 20th and 37th week of pregnancy.

Why does preterm birth occur? 

The causes can be many: infections, blood loss in the placenta, autoimmune maternal diseases or incontinence of the uterine cervix.

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