Causes of premature birth
Birth is considered premature, or preterm, when it occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
Those final weeks in the womb are crucial for healthy weight gain and for the full development of various vital organs, including the brain and lungs. This is why premature babies may have more medical problems and may require a longer hospital stay. They may also have long-term health issues, such as learning disabilities or physical disabilities.
The cause of a premature birth often can’t be identified. However, certain factors are known to increase a woman’s risk of going into labor early.
A pregnant woman with any of the following conditions is more likely to have a premature birth:
- heart disease
- kidney disease
- high blood pressure