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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Preemie Health Complications Statistics

Premature babies are not just tiny; they are at risk for a number of health concerns, including breathing difficulties, brain injury, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, infection, and eye disorders. This section is for those wanting information about the problematic health problems premature babies are susceptible to.

Premature infants are born before their bodies are fully developed; they have immature organ systems that are not ready to function independently from the protection and sustenance of the mother’s womb, as a result they often need medical intervention to survive. This intensive and specialist care is provided in neonatal intensive care units (also called intensive care nursery and special care baby unit).

The tinier and earlier a preemie is born the greater the risk for complications.
For information related to particular gestational ages and survival and health outcomes select from the list below.

Statistics on breathing problems and preemie babies

Stats on breathing problem

  • Chronic lung disease occurs in at least 20% of preterm infants that require ventilation.
  • 85% of infants weighing less than 750 g at birth are affected compared with only 5% weighing greater than 1500 g at birth.
{Morse, 2009 #964}{Petrini, 2009 #965}.

Statitics on the brain relating to premmie babies

Stats on the brain

  • Approximately 20% of very low birth weight infants have moderate to severe white matter abnormality of the brain
  • Cystic periventricular leukomalacia is thought to affect approximately 3-5% of very preterm infants
  • Medical advances have resulted in a large decrease in incidence of intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) from approximately 30-55% in the 1980s to 2-5%, in 1997
  • Preemie less than 1,000 g (2 pounds) or less than 28 weeks – 50% to 60% chance of developing IVH
  • Less than 1, 500 g – 10% to 20%
  • Rates of NEC drop dramatically for infants born after 35-36 weeks' gestational weeks of age.
  • Of those preterm babies who develop an IVH;
    • 40% grade 1 (mild bleeds)
    • 30% grade 2,
    • 20% grade 3, and
    • 10% grade 4
{Bowerman, Donn, Silver, & Jaffe, 1984; Hamrick et al., 2004; Inder & Volpe, 2000; Inder, Wells, Mogridge, Spencer, & Volpe, 2003; Volpe, 2001}

Stats on the heart relating to premmie infants

Stats on the heart

  • Cardiovascular malformations 6 to 8 infants in every 1000 births.
  • Preterm infants have more than twice as many cardiovascular malformations than infants born at term
  • 1 in 6 infants with cardiovascular malformations is born preterm.
  • The incidence of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in preterm infants have ranged from 18% to 77% and generally decrease with increasing birth weight and gestational age.
  • In term infants, the incidence is about 1 in 2000 births
  • The female-to-male ratio is 2:1. Females are 2-3 times more likely than males to develop PDA.

Health outcomes

  • Severe disability is approximately the same as infants born at term however these preterm babies are at greater risk for mild cerebral palsy, developmental delay and school-related problems.
{Koch et al., 2006; Tanner, Sabrine, & Wren, 2005; Vanhaesebrouck et al., 2007}

Statistics on the gastrointestinal system and premmie babies

Stats on the gastrointestinal system

  • Over 90% of infants who develop necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) are born preterm.
  • The incidence of NEC is between 5-10% of all very low birth weight infants (less than 1500 grams).
  • The mortality related to NEC in very low birth weight infants is between 20-30%
  • The mortality related to NEC in extremely preterm infants (less than 1000grams) is approximately 40-50%
  • Infants who weigh less than 1000 g at birth have the highest attack rates. This rate dramatically drops to 3.8 per 1000 live births for infants who weigh 1501-2500 g at birth.
  • Rates of NEC drop dramatically for infants born after 35-36 weeks' gestational weeks of age.
  • The average age of onset has been reported to be
    • 20.2 days for babies born at less than 30 weeks' gestational age,
    • 13.8 days for babies born at 31-33 weeks' gestational age, and
    • 5.4 days for babies born after 34 weeks' gestation.
{Lin & Stoll, 2006; Patole, 2007}

Statistics on the infection and premmie babies

Stats on the infection

  • As many as 65% of infants with birth weights less than 1000 g have at least one infection during their initial hospitalisation.
  • Hospital acquired infections affect up to 40% of infants in neonatal intensive care unit (NICUs)
  • Preterm infants who are in more severe critical clinical condition on admission to NICU have almost a two-fold increase in the risk of contracting a hospital acquired infection.
  • The mortality related to NEC in extremely preterm infants (less than 1000grams) is approximately 40-50%
  • Infants who weigh less than 1000 g at birth have the highest attack rates. This rate dramatically drops to 3.8 per 1000 live births for infants who weigh 1501-2500 g at birth.
  • Rates of NEC drop dramatically for infants born after 35-36 weeks' gestational weeks of age.
  • The average age of onset has been reported to be
    • 20.2 days for babies born at less than 30 weeks' gestational age,
    • 13.8 days for babies born at 31-33 weeks' gestational age, and
    • 5.4 days for babies born after 34 weeks' gestation.
{Auriti et al., 2003; Moro et al., 1996}

Statistics on Visual problems in premmie infants

Stats on Visual problems

  • Blindness – less than 1% to 5%
  • Visual acuity – 8% to 20%
  • Refractive errors – 3% to 33%
  • Strabismus – 5% to 39%
  • Stereopsis – 8% to 50%
  • Contrast sensitivity – 10% to 60%
  • Oculomotor control – 10% to 25%
  • Visual fields – 5% to 23%
{Wilson-Costello, et al., 2007, Crofts, King, & Johnson, 1998, Powls, 1997 #21, Stephenson, 2007 #555, Dowdeswell, 1995 #560, Schalij-Delfos, 2000 #574, Jongmans, 1996 #562}

 

 



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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