What Causes Prematurity?

There are some known risk factors for premature birth. But even if a woman does everything “right” during pregnancy, she can still have a premature baby.

The known risk factors are:

  • Carrying more than one baby (twins, triplets, quadruplets or more).
  • Having a previous preterm birth.
  • Problems with the uterus or cervix.
  • Chronic health problems in the mother, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and clotting disorders.
  • Certain infections during pregnancy.
  • Cigarette smoking, alcohol use or illicit drug use during pregnancy.

Although researchers know more than ever before about what leads to preterm delivery, there is still a long way to go in developing treatments to prevent it. The current focus of research includes developing better screening tests to identify women destined to deliver early, and treatments that can be used early on to stop or slow the events leading to prematurity.

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Centers for Disease Control
Premature Birth

American Academy of Pediatrics
Premie Milestones Brochure

Kids Health
A Primer on Premies

March of Dimes
About Prematurity

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Preterm Labor and Birth