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Prematurity is when a baby is born before 37 weeks gestation; 37-42 weeks is considered full term. While huge strides have been made in caring for preterm infants, prematurity can lead to a host of short and long-term health, developmental or behavioral problems. Some of these include cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss. Premature babies are treated in special hospital wards called Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). Very premature babies can spend months on the NICU.

According to the March of Dimes, prematurity is the number one killer of newborns, one in eight US babies is born prematurely, and premature babies cost ten times more than healthy babies.

While the causes are often unknown, certain conditions are linked to prematurity, including diabetes, heart or kidney disease, infections, and multiple pregnancies (twins, etc). Smoking, drug or alcohol use, and teen pregnancy can also contribute. The best way to help prevent prematurity is early and regular prenatal care.

You’ll find bloggers talking about prematurity at sites like Preemie World, Twin Peas Blog and Podcast, and Mike & Ollie: 24-Weekers Who Beat the Odds.

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