Preterm birth is a costly public health burden

50% of all pregnancy costs are associated with preterm birth, the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in the United States, largely due to the rate of neonatal admissions and re-hospitalizations.1,2

You can play an important role in helping to reduce the nation’s preterm birth rate in supporting identification and education of at-risk patients.

Resource Center

What is preterm birth?

Preterm is a birth of an infant before 37 weeks of gestation

More than 1,000 babies are born preterm every day.6,7

Approximately 1 in every 10 babies is born preterm

The U.S. preterm birth rate is 9.6%, meaning approximately 1 in every 10 babies is born preterm.6 Preliminary 2016 data showed an increase in the preterm birth rate (9.84%) for a second year in a row.8

Preterm, including late preterm, infants have experienced more complications and required more time and more intensive medical care than their term counterparts.9

There are variety of risk factors associated with preterm birth

You play an important role in supporting identification and education of at-risk patients.

Preterm birth, including late preterm birth, can lead to health problems4,7,9,11-15

A full-term pregnancy is 39-40 weeks. Length of pregnancy is one of the most important factors in a newborn’s overall health.4

71.3% of all preterm births in the United States are late preterm births:7,11

  • 39%
  • 19%
  • 13%
  • 12%
  • 10%
  • 7%
0% 100%


Compared to term infants, late preterm infants were:9

Compared to term infants, late preterm infants are 4 times more likely to have at least 1 medical condition diagnosed

more likely

to have at least 1 medical condition diagnosed
Compared to term infants, late preterm infants are 3.5 times more likely to have 2 or more medical conditions diagnosed

more likely

to have ≥2 conditions diagnosed

A closer look at the late preterm stage (340 to 366 weeks):

Brain development in the late preterm stage

Brain is still developing balance, coordination, learning and social function.12

Lung development in the late preterm stage

Lung structure and function continues maturing. Babies born early may have trouble breathing.9,12

Temperature development and low body fat in the late preterm stage

Temperature regulation is still developing. Body fat may be low leading to temperature instability.12,13

Hearing development in the late preterm stage

Hearing is still developing and may not be fully functional until full term.14

Liver development in the late preterm stage

Liver is still maturing and may not be able to remove bilirubin and prevent jaundice.12,13

Sucking and swallowing development in the late preterm stage

Sucking and swallowing reflexes continue to develop. Babies born early may have difficultly feeding or have nutrition problems.13,15

Preterm brains are smaller and less mature than full-term babies16-18

A nearly 10-fold increase in fetal brain volume occurred between weeks 18 and 34 in one study.16

During the last 6 weeks of gestation, a study reported:17

  • 50% increase of cortical volume
  • 25% of cerebellar development occurred
  • Exponential increase in relative percentage of gray and myelinated white matter to total brain volume

Preterm birth is associated with significant economic burdens19-23

Infants born preterm spent more time in the healthcare system.

Preterm birth by the numbers include:

48% of preterm infants are admitted to the NICU/NINT

admitted to the NICU/NINT*19
*Neonatal Intensive Care Unit/Neonatal Intermediate Care

Preterm infants are 7 times more likely to have morbidity during initial hospitalization than term infants

more likely to have morbidity during initial hospitalization than term infants20

Preterm infants have a 23% risk of rehospitalization during the first year

risk of rehospitalization during the first year21

The increased hospitalization time has led to significant costs:

The annual cost associated with preterm birth is approximately 26.2 billion dollars

The annual cost associated with preterm birth, based on a 2007 Institute of Medicine report22

50% of pregnancy costs are associated with preterm births

The percentage of pregnancy costs associated with preterm birth1

The average incremental cost during an infant’s first year of life is $50K

The average incremental cost during an infant’s first year of life22,23

Late preterm birth makes up a high portion of preterm birth's total economic burden24-26

Because late preterm infants comprise the largest group of preterm infants, small increases in adverse outcomes in this population have the potential to be a considerable public health burden.24

Hospitalization Costs for Preterm Infants by Gestational Age:25,26

Per-Case Cost

Hospitalization Costs for Preterm Infants by Gestational Age: Per-Case Cost

Aggregate Cost

Hospitalization Costs for Preterm Infants by Gestational Age: Aggregate Cost

Resource Center

You can play an important role in helping to reduce the preterm birth rate in the nation, your state, and your health plan by communicating with HCPs on the need to inform and counsel patients on the risk of delivering preterm.

To support your efforts, the resource center contains preterm birth education and outreach materials for patients and HCPs.

Health Plan Communication Resources:

Preterm Birth Awareness PowerPoint

Download PDF

Preterm Birth Awareness Presentation


A presentation showing the societal and economic impact of preterm birth.

Preterm Birth Educational Booklet PDF

Download PDF

Preterm Birth Educational Booklet


An in-depth look at the impact of preterm birth, which can be used to support healthcare provider communication.

Patient Education Tools:

Growth You Can’t See is a patient education initiative focused on the importance of bringing a pregnancy to full term, or 40 weeks. These materials can be shared with healthcare providers to help educate their patients about preterm birth.

Growth You Can’t See Preterm Birth Educational Brochure PDF

Download Brochures

Growth You Can’t See Brochures


Helps inform and educate patients about preterm birth. Available in multiple languages.

Preterm Birth Educational Video

Download Video

Preterm Birth Educational Video


Features Dr. Louis and supports patient education of the risk factors associated with preterm birth.

Growth You Can’t See Preterm Birth Educational Poster

Download Posters

Growth You Can’t See Posters


Features the important developments that occur during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Available in both English and Spanish.

Growth You Can’t See Preterm Birth Educational Website

Visit Website

Growth You Can’t See Website


Informs patients on preterm birth and features materials to support education.