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Preterm Baby

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a preterm baby?

A preterm, also known as premature or preemie, baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks. Preterm babies are at risk for health problems. This is because their organs are not fully developed. Preterm babies often need help to breathe, eat, gain weight, and maintain body temperature.

What are the types of preterm birth?

There are 3 types of preterm birth. The earlier a baby is born, the higher his or her risk for health problems.

What health problems is my baby at risk for?

Some examples of common health problems include the following:

How will my baby be cared for after birth?

Your baby may be cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after he or she is born. He or she will be closely monitored, and treated, for problems. Your baby may need any of the following:

How can I care for my baby at home?

Healthcare providers will teach you how to care for your baby before you take him or her home. Do the following to keep your baby safe and healthy at home:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

When should I call my baby's pediatrician?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.