Causes and Risk Factors - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

Although the cause of preterm birth is often unknown, expectant parents need not leave it purely to chance. There are a number of things a potential or expectant mother should and should NOT do, to limit the chances of preterm birth.


Healthy mother, healthy baby

The cause/s of preterm birth may be due to a number of very different events or triggers. Although there are a lot of risks identified there are no good predictors of preterm birth. This section is intended to give you a guide and a better understanding of the risks, some of which are easier to avoid than others depending on your personal circumstances.
Preemie help is here to help you identify any factors you may be able to avoid.


Select from the menu items for related information...

Assisted Reproductive Technology

Assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as In vitro fertilisation (IVF), Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and gamete intrafallopian transfer, is a risk factor for preterm birth whether the pregnancy is a singleton or multiple gestation.

Assisted Reproductive Technology


Research has confirmed that there is an increased risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and small for gestational age in both singleton and twin infants born following ART. The increased risk was found to be independent of maternal age and was not due to the higher proportion of multiple births among ART conceptions.

(Bower & Hansen, 2005).

Australian Research

A recent Australian study found that singleton infants born after ART were more likely to be preterm and to have low birth weight compared with the national Australian birth cohort.

  • Almost one third were delivered preterm, and
  • 25% were low birth weight

These researchers also found that female-factor infertility increased the likelihood of preterm birth and low birth weight for ART singletons and twins, rather than related to any factors that were intrinsic to ART procedures. In other words, the treatment for ART didn’t cause the preterm birth but rather factors related to the mother being infertile.

(Wang et al., 2005).

US Research

In contrast, a study from the USA reported that the increased risk of low birth weight (LBW) in singleton infants born at term conceived with ART may be directly related to treatments for infertility. These authors suggest that the use of human menopausal gonadotropin, used in some ART procedures, has been associated with increases in insulin-like growth factors that have, in turn, been linked to intrauterine growth restriction.

(Johnson et al., 1995; Schieve, et al., 2002).

Technical Reference List

Bower, C., & Hansen, M. (2005). Assisted reproductive technologies and birth outcomes: overview of recent systematic reviews. Reprod Fertil Dev, 17(3), 329-333. Johnson, M. R., Irvine, R., Hills, F., Bolton, V. N., Abbas, A. A., Brooks, A. A., et al. (1995). Superovulation, IGFBP-1 and birth-weight. European Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 59(2), 193-195. Reedy, N. J. (2007). Born too soon: the continuing challenge of preterm labor and birth in the United States. J Midwifery Womens Health, 52(3), 281-290. Schieve, L. A., Meikle, S. F., Ferre, C., Peterson, H. B., Jeng, G., & Wilcox, L. S. (2002). Low and very low birth weight in infants conceived with use of assisted reproductive technology. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(10), 731-737. Wang, Y. A., Sullivan, E. A., Black, D., Dean, J., Bryant, J., & Chapman, M. (2005). Preterm birth and low birth weight after assisted reproductive technology-related pregnancy in Australia between 1996 and 2000. Fertil Steril, 83(6), 1650-1658.



Help us help you!

help us help you! is here to provide preemie information, community and solutions to the people that need it most... you!
Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

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



New Release - Preemie Development

All in one easy to read eguide

‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

With an easy-to-read layout this comprehensive guide is over 130 pages of important information about the NICU and your preemie.

Using Adobe’s .pdf format makes the guide usable across a wide range of platforms from ipad to PC, smartphone to macbook.

Packed with extra features like progress charts, NICU checklists and plenty of others. ‘The preemie guide’ is a must for any new parents.