Facts & Figures - a quick look

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Globally preterm birth accounts for over 9.5% of all births.  This means that over 13 million babies are born too soon every year.


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90% of Preemies survive

Thirty years ago less than 25% of the tiniest preemies were surviving, now almost 90% survive.  Learning about preterm birth can help increase awareness of the unique needs of preemies and their families.

Here you can find out about General Statistics and Preemie Outcomes. Make sure to have a look...


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Incidence of Preterm Birth

The with survival rates and outcomes for preemies continually improving it is still important to identify the issues that come with being premature.

In general the incidence of preterm birth is increasing. Some countries have maintained a rate of preterm birth and others have continued to increase. The increase in the rate of premature birth can be attributed to several reasons ranging from IVF use to Socioecnomic status.

Incidence of premature birth Worldwide

To recap, a preterm birth or “preemie” is a baby who was born before 37 completed gestational weeks. The numbers of preterm births are not equal when you compare countries, for example the highest rate of preterm birth occurs in Africa and the lowest in Europe. The reasons for this are varied and are likely due to differences between countries in regards to the various risk factors

The global incidence of preterm birth

Region Number of Preterm Births Preterm Birth Rates (%)
World Total 12,870,000 9.6%
Africa 4,047,000 11.9%
North America 480,000 10.6%
Asia 6,907,000 9.1%
LA & the Caribbean 933,000 8.1%
Oceania Australia & New Zealand 20,000 6.4%
Europe 466,000 6.2%

The estimated worldwide incidence of preterm birth in 2005, shown in the table, represent the data reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a systematic review aiming to understand the global extent of this specific public health problem. Note these figures were only based on singleton births so are likely to underestimate the actual number of preterm births globally

Incidence of premature birth by country

The incidence of preterm birth is on the rise. Discover the rate in your country!

If your country does not appear in the list please contact us and let us know. We have so many things to do that sometimes we have to wait until someone asks.

Incidence of premature birth in the United States of America

General Incidence

  • 499,008 infants -- were born prematurely (less than 37 weeks gestation) in 2003
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Rates of preterm birth

  • In 1995: 11.0% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2004: 12.5% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2006: 12.8% of live births was born preterm
Source: March of Dimes - Peristats

Rates of preterm birth in 2004 by race

  • African American: 17.6%
  • Native Americans: 13.2%
  • Hispanics: 12%
  • Non-Hispanic white: 11.5%
  • Asians: 10.4%
(Reedy, 2007)

Rates of preterm birth in 2006 by race

  • African American: 18.3%
  • Native Americans: 14.1%
  • Hispanics: 12.1%
  • Non-Hispanic white: 11.6%
  • Asians: 10.7%
(Reedy, 2007)

Incidence of premature birth in the United Kingdom

General Incidence

  • 80,000 babies were born prematurely annually
  • 48,799 babies were born prematurely in England and Wales, 2005

Rates of preterm birth

  • In 2005: 7.7% of live births was born preterm (England & Wales)
  • Between 1980 – 2004: 5.8% preterm births (singleton births) (Scotland)

Incidence of Preterm Birth in Australia

General Incidence Rates

  • 23,953 babies were born preterm in 2007
  • 24,576 babies were born preterm in 2009
  • 25,113 babies were born preterm in 2011

Rates of preterm birth total

  • In 1992: 6.9% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2006: 8.1% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2007: 8.1% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2009: 8.2% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2011: 8.3% of live births was born preterm

Rates of preterm birth: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

  • In 2006: 13.7% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2007: 13.7% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2009: 13.1% of live births was born preterm
  • In 2011: 13.8% of live births was born preterm

Rates of low birth weight total

  • In 1992: 6.3% of live births was low birth weight
  • In 2006: 6.4% of live births was low birth weight
  • In 2007: 6.2% of live births was low birth weight
  • In 2009: 6.2% of live births was low birth weight
  • In 2011: 6.3% of live births was low birth weight

Rates of low birth weight: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

  • In 1992: 12.9% of live births was born low birth weight
  • In 2006: 12.4% of live births was born low birth weight
  • In 2007: 12.5% of live births was born low birth weight
  • In 2009: 12.0% of live births was born low birth weight
  • In 2011: 12.6% of live births was born low birth weight

Rates of preterm birth: Indigenous versus Non-Indigenous Australians in 2006

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander rate of preterm birth: 13.7%
  • Non-Indigenous rate of preterm birth: 5.1%
  • Rate of low birth weight in liveborn babies: 12.4%
  • Non-Indigenous: 6.2%

Average birth weight & Proportion of low birth weight of liveborn babies: Indigenous versus Non-Indigenous Australians in 2011

  •  
    • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander average birth weight: 3,187 grams
    • Non-Indigenous average birth weight: 3,375 grams
    • Rate of low birth weight in liveborn babies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander: 12.6%
    • Non-Indigenous: 6.0%
  •  

      Preterm births by gestational age and state and territory 2011

    • New South Wales: 7.5%
    • Victoria: 8.3%
    • Queensland: 8.8%
    • Western Australia: 8.6%
    • South Australia: 9.2%
    • Tasmania: 10.1%
    • Australian Capital Territory: 9.4%
    • Northern Territory: 11.1%
    • Australia total: 8.3%
  •  

    (Lancaster, Huang, & Elvis, 1995) (Laws, Abeywardana, Walker, & Sullivan, 2007) (Laws & Sullivan, 2009) Li Z, McNally L, Hilder L & Sullivan EA 2011. Australia’s mothers and babies 2009. Perinatal statistics series no. 25. Cat. no. PER 52. Sydney: AIHW National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit.

    Li Z, Zeki R, Hilder L & Sullivan EA 2013. Australia’s mothers and babies 2011. Perinatal statistics series no. 28. Cat. no. PER 59. Canberra: AIHW National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in India

    General Incidence

    • The rate of preterm birth in India is approximately 21%
    (Singh, Singh, & Shikha, 2007)

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Sweden

    General Incidence

    • The rate of preterm birth in Sweden is approximately 6%
    (Morken, Kallen, Hagberg, & Jacobsson, 2005)

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Hong Kong Chinese

    General Incidence

    • The rate of preterm birth in Hong Kong Chinese is approximately 7.5%
    (Leung, Roach, & Lau, 1998)

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Zimbabwe

    General Incidence

    • The rate of preterm birth in Zimbabwe is approximately 16.5%
    (Shingairai, Siobon, & Godfrey, 2004)

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in New Zealand

    • In 1980: 4.3% of live births was born preterm
    • In 1999: 5.9% of live births was born preterm

    Rates of preterm birth total

    (Craig, Thompson, & Mitchell, 2002)

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Canada

    Rates of preterm birth total

    • In 1981: 6.4% of live births was born preterm
    • In 2004: 8.2% of live births was born preterm
    Public Health Agency of Canada

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Ireland

    Rates of preterm birth total

    • In 2009: 6% of live births was born preterm

    Rates of low birth weight (LBW) total

    • In 2009: 5% of live births was low birth weight
    Perinatal Statistics Report 2009

    Incidence of Preterm Birth in Various Countries in Europe

    Rates of preterm birth total data from 2004

    • In Austria: 11.4% of live births was born preterm
    • In Germany: 8.9% of live births was born preterm
    • In Finland: 5.6% of live births was born preterm
    • In Latvia: 5.7% of live births was born preterm
    • In Lithuania: 5.3% of live births was born preterm
    European Perinatal Health Report

     


    Technical Reference List

    Shingairai, A. F., Siobon, D. H., & Godfrey, B. W. (2004). Risk factors for prematurity at Harare Maternity Hospital, Zimbabwe. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33, 1194-1201.
    Leung, T. N., Roach, V. J., & Lau, T. K. (1998). Incidence of preterm delivery in Hong Kong Chinese. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 38(2), 138-141.
    Morken, N.-H., Kallen, K., Hagberg, H., & Jacobsson, B. (2005). Preterm birth in Sweden 1973-2001: rate, subgroups, and effect of changing patterns in multiple births, maternal age, and smoking. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 84(6), 558-565.
    Singh, U., Singh, N., & Shikha, S. (2007). A prospective analysis of etiology and outcome of preterm labor. Thr Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of India, 57(1), 48-52.
    Craig, E. D., Thompson, J. M. D., & Mitchell, E. A. (2002). Socioeconomic status and preterm birth: New Zealand trends, 1980 to 1999. Archives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition, 86(3), F142-146.
    Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Perinatal Health Report, 2008 Edition. Ottawa, 2008.
    Health Research and Information Division The Economic and Social Research Institute. Ireland
    EURO-PERISTAT Project, with SCPE, EUROCAT, EURONEOSTAT. European Perinatal Health Report. 2008.

     

     



    AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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    Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

    Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 


    Read More: Defining Preterm birth


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