Premature Babies

There are many factors that influence premature birth. In this section, we’ll explore definitions of prematurity, why some babies might be born prematurely, and what a premature baby might look like

It is estimated that approximately 10% of babies are born prematurely worldwide. This means that approximately 15 million babies are born prematurely every year.

Here in Ireland, the figure stands at around 4,500 a year (about 1 in every 16 babies), meaing that there is a baby born prematurely every 116 minutes.  Despite the high number of preterm births in the world, little is known about prevention of preterm delivery, the problems of delivery and risks to development.

Rest assured: you are not alone, and there is support available.

Each baby is different, and simply labeling all babies born before 37 weeks’ gestation as premature does not tell us what the baby may experience. For example:

  • A baby born at 36 weeks’ gestation may be slow at feeding initially.
  • A baby born before 33 weeks’ gestation may have more serious problems such as immature lungs.  This may result in the baby requiring assisted breathing until their lungs develop.  Over 90 % of babies born before 33 weeks’ gestation survive.
  • Being born before 28 weeks’ gestation causes significant problems, but many babies go on to thrive. The natural development of major organs of the baby will have been disrupted and there is a potential for severe health risks.  However, the survival rate for these babies is quite remarkable.

Each baby is different.  You and your baby’s medical team will learn about your baby’s personality and specific needs.  With time and care, your baby will grow and develop.

Definitions of Prematurity

What is considered “premature”?

Why Has My Baby Come Early?

Reasons why your baby may have been born prematurely

What Preterm Babies Look Like

Premature babies generally appear differently to term babies