Why 9 Months Make a Difference

Your baby’s organs finish their development near the end of pregnancy.1 If she or he is born early, those organs may not be fully ready to do their job outside of the support and protection of your womb. Many of the problems caused by preterm birth can be treated.1 But some children who are born prematurely may face lifelong health challenges.

How early is too early?

Delivering a few days before the due date is common and should not cause any concern. Delivery before 37 weeks (about 8 months and 1 week) is considered “preterm".2 The earlier before 37 weeks the baby is born, the greater the chance that he or she will have health problems.2

Premature birth rates in the United States

Preterm birth is the most common cause of health problems in newborns today.1 According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 10 babies born in the United States is born premature.This is one of the highest rates in the world. More than half of the mothers of premature babies have no risk factors.3



  1. Behrman RE, et al, eds. Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences and Prevention. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Understanding Premature Birth and Assuring Healthy Outcomes. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2007.
  2. The impact of premature birth on society. March of Dimes website. http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/the-economic-and-societal-costs.aspx. Accessed October 6, 2017.
  3. Iams JD, et al. The preterm prediction study: can low-risk women destined for spontaneous preterm birth be identified? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001;184(4):652-5. doi:10.1067/mob.2001.111248.


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