What causes pre-term labor?
"Pre-term labor can happen to anyone, and the cause is often unknown," says Virtua OB/GYN Robert Block, MD
. While an average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, a pre-term or premature birth is one that occurs earlier than 37 weeks. "Before this time, a baby is not fully developed and is at risk for serious health problems including low-birth weight, breathing difficulties and underdeveloped organs," explains Dr. Block.
For the 11% of women who experience pre-term labor, each additional day of pregnancy is a monumental contribution to a baby's development. "But, despite the best medical interventions, sometimes pre-term labor cannot be stopped," says Dr. Block. "In these situations, we concentrate on supporting the baby before and after birth."