Worldwide over 15 million infants are born too early, too small and too sick each year: that’s one in 10 babies.

Here in Ireland the figure stands around 4,500 . That means 1 baby is born prematurely every 116 minutes.  Despite the high number of preterm births in the world, there is little known about prevention of preterm delivery and the problems and risks for the development of preterm babies so far.

Premature Baby

What does ‘Premature Birth’ mean?

 A premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby is due. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. Normally, a pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks. Premature birth gives the baby less time to develop in the womb.

 

Pre-term baby birth categories:

  • Extremely preterm (<28 weeks)
  • Very preterm (28 to <32 weeks)
  • Moderate to late preterm (32 to <37 weeks).

Small for gestational age (SGA) babies are those whose birth weight lies below the 10th percentile for that gestational age.
Low birth weight (LBW), is used to define a baby that weighs less than 5 lb 8 oz (2500 g) regardless of gestational age.
Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW)  babies weigh less than 3 lb 5 oz (1500 g)
Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW) babies weigh less than 2 lb 3 oz (1000 g).

Pre-Term Baby Weights:

Preterm Birth Weight for Boys
Gestation    Grams            Lbs
24 Weeks    550  – 870        1.3   – 1.50
26 Weeks    700  -1125        1.9    -2.80
28 Weeks    890  -1420        2.0    -3.20
30 Weeks    1090-1790        2.7    -4.00
32 Weeks    1370-2200        3.0    -4.14
34 Weeks    1730-2770        3.14    -6.2
36 Weeks    2105-3300        4.14    -7.5

Preterm Birth Weight for Girls
Gestation    Grams            Lbs
24 Weeks    500-   800        1.2    –  2.12
26 Weeks    640- 1080        1.7    –  2.60
28 Weeks    800- 1370        1.12  –  3.0
30 Weeks    1000-1700        2.4    –  3.12
32 Weeks    1290-2140        2.1    –  4.11
34 Weeks    1630-2620        3.9    –  5.12
36 Weeks    2040-3160        4.8    –  6.50

Survival Rates of a Premature Baby (Approx.)

Babies born 23 weeks have a 17 percent chance of survival
Babies born at 24 weeks have a 39 percent chance of survival
Babies born at 25 weeks have a 50 percent chance of survival
Babies born at 26 weeks have an 80 percent chance of survival
Babies born at 27 weeks have a 90 percent chance of survival
Babies born between 28-31 weeks gestation have at 90-95 percent chance of survival
Babies born between 32-33 weeks have a 95 percent chance of survival
Most babies born 34 weeks onwards have the same likelihood of survival as a full term infant.