Babies that are born before 37 weeks of gestation are completed in the womb are dubbed premature births or preemies. The youngest preemie to have survived preterm birth was born at just 21 weeks. Some babies that arrive early are developmentally fine though they are incredibly tiny. However, others haven’t had enough time in the womb to have their organs develop fully. There are a number of factors that lead to the birth of a baby before it has successfully completed term in the womb. Here are a few of them.

Multiple pregnancies
The risk of premature labor is increase during twin or triple pregnancies as the womb is overstretched with the presence of multiple fetuses.

Gynecological history of the mother
Mothers that have had suffered damage to the opening of the womb or have had surgery on their cervix may experience premature labor if the cervix opens too soon during pregnancy.

Fetal development
Another cause of premature birth may be growth retardation or impairment when placental blood supply is affected. When the baby is not thriving in the womb, the chances of premature birth are high.

Lifestyle factors
Engaging in over-strenuous physical activity, being underweight, having a poor diet, having a high caffeine intake, using recreational drugs and smoking, can increase a mother’s risk of having a premature baby.

Maternal age
Mothers that are aged older than 35 years or those that are younger than 20 years of age are also at a higher risk of premature labor and may have premature babies.

Maternal diseases specific to the pregnancy
Pregnancy-induced medical conditions like the liver disease obstetric cholestasis where the mother may experience excessive itching, diabetes and pre-eclampsia may also result in the birth of a premature baby. In fact, pre-eclampsia has been found to be present in 15% of all preemie birth cases.

Existing medical conditions in the mother
An increased risk of premature labor is also linked to pre-existing medical conditions in the mother. They include conditions like renal disease, APS (antiphospholipid syndrome) and SLE (erythematosus).

Cervical incompetence
When the opening to the womb aka the cervix, shortens and opens too soon, the mother may go into labor and deliver a preterm baby.

Preterm labor may also be potentially triggered by untreated infections like bladder infections, group B streptococci, bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas, chlamydia, gonorrhea and other vaginal infections.

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