Premature Birth: Causes, prevention and treatment

Premature birth is when a woman is pregnant and delivers a baby before 37 weeks. Babies born prematurely (before 32 weeks) have a higher risk of disability and death. However, babies are more likely to survive due to advances in medical care.

There are three subcategories of preterm birth based on the length of pregnancy:

  • Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks).
  • Very preterm (28 to 32 weeks).
  • Mild to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).

Symptoms of premature birth

Symptoms of premature birth include the following:

  • Having contractions every ten minutes or more.
  • Continuous or irregular backaches
  • Lower abdominal cramps or menstrual cramps
  • Vomit, have nausea, have diarrhoea, or can't stand liquids for more than eight hours.
  • Increased pelvic or vaginal pressure.
  • Excessive vaginal discharge and light vaginal bleeding

When should I see a doctor?

When you observe any symptoms of premature birth, consult your doctor.

Causes of premature birth

Premature births can occur unexpectedly and without warning. The following are the causes of premature birth:

  • Long-term health conditions, like infections or diabetes.
  • Overuse of drugs or alcohol.
  • Vaginal bleeding or infections during pregnancy
  • Multiple pregnancies, like triplets or twins
  • Pregnant women with high blood pressure
  • They have uterine or cervix problems.
  • There is insufficient time between pregnancies (less than 18 months).

Prevention of premature birth

Having quick and suitable prenatal care lowers the chances of having a premature birth. Other crucial preventive measures include:

  • Eat a well-balanced meal before and during your pregnancy.

Eat plenty of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies before and during pregnancy. Doctors also strongly advise taking calcium supplements and folic acid.

  • Drink plenty of water every day.

Doctors recommend having at least eight glasses of water per day. However, if you exercise, you should drink more.

  • From the first trimester, begin to take aspirin every day.

If you have high blood pressure or have had a past preterm birth, your doctor may advise you to take 60 to 80 mg of aspirin daily.

  • Quit using illegal drugs, smoking, or overusing prescription medicines.

If having a premature baby worries you, visit your doctor. Your doctor could recommend additional preventive steps to reduce your risk of premature birth.

Treatment to prevent premature birth

Doctors may offer treatment to prevent premature birth if you meet the following criteria:

  • You've previously given birth when you were less than 34 weeks pregnant.
  • You had a miscarriage in the past when you were 16 weeks pregnant.
  • Your waters have broken before 37 weeks in this or previous pregnancies.
  • You had cervix damage in the past, possibly due to surgery.
  • Your cervix is short.

There are two treatments available:

  • A small hormonal tablet that you insert into your vagina
  • A procedure to stitch your cervix to assist in supporting it


A few premature birth complications are unavoidable. However, neonatal intensive care units can help save lives. You could be hopeful that your hospital's NICU would do everything possible to care for your newborn and provide you with the support you require.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Jayanagar. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Is premature birth painful?

Yes, you may face period cramps that might come and go or be continuous in the lower abdomen. moderate backache felt below the waistline that might come and go or be consistent. Increased vaginal or pelvic pressure may come and go.

2. Can doctors prevent premature birth?

Doctors can help prevent premature birth if you have symptoms and are less than 34 weeks pregnant. Your doctor might give you a medicine called a tocolytic to stop you from giving birth too soon and give your baby's lungs more time to develop. Tocolytics could delay labour for several days by reducing contractions.

3. Can premature birth cause autism?

Yes, premature birth increases the risk of autism in babies. The pressure of premature birth on a growing baby's brain may combine with a biological weakness to boost the chances of autism in some kids.

4. Can stress lead to premature birth?

Stress during pregnancy could increase the chances of having a low birth weight (less than 8 ounces or 5 pounds) or a premature baby. Babies born prematurely or too small are at a higher risk of developing health problems. However, doctors can assist you in caring for your child.

5. Can you plan a premature birth?

Doctors sometimes plan premature births because it is safer for the child to be born sooner.
It could be caused by a medical condition in either the baby or the mother. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of continuing the pregnancy versus having preterm labour.

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