Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
J. Michael Wright
Preterm birth is an adverse outcome of pregnancy in which delivery of a live-born infant occurs before the completion of 37 gestational weeks. Infants born between 32 and 36 gestational weeks are considered moderate preterm births, while those delivered earlier than 32 gestational weeks are classified as very preterm births. This entry reviews the occurrence and public health impact of preterm birth and describes the mechanisms and risk factors associated with preterm birth. It also describes approaches used for the detection and prevention of preterm delivery as well as measurement issues encountered in epidemiological studies. Preterm birth is associated with increased infant and childhood morbidity such as neurodevelopmental deficits and behavioral problems. Several adult diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, are more likely to occur among preterm infants. Preterm birth is also associated with increased mortality with two thirds of perinatal deaths occurring among preterm infants. Although preterm ...