Preterm Birth Prevention

Preterm birth is when babies are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born too soon account for three-quarters of perinatal deaths.

This refers to babies who die just before or after birth.

Preterm births also account for most of the low-birth weight infants (infants born under 2500 grams or 5½ pounds).

These newborns are at risk of developing serious short and long-term health problems. As a result of such problems, each of these children is estimated to cost the health care system $600,000 over his or her lifetime. 

The cause of most preterm births is unknown. However, there are recognized risk factors for pregnant women. 


Recognized risk factors

  • Genital tract infection
  • Periodontal (gum) infection
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Previous preterm birth
  • Other obstetrical problems

Stress may also affect the risk of preterm birth. Research is required to clarify all of these factors.

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of preterm labour. If you see a potential problem, call your healthcare provider and go to the hospital for assessment.

For more information, please call Region of Waterloo Public Health 519-575-4400.

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