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Preterm birth: signs, causes and prevention

Preterm birth: signs, causes and prevention

In this article you will learn

Some babies can hardly do it expect to finally be in your arms and choose to come into the world earlier than planned. At what point does one speak of a “premature birth”?

What are the signs and can you do something to prevent them? You will find out in the following article.

Premature birth: What does that even mean?


A “premature birth” is when the baby is born before the end of the 37th week of pregnancy. And there are quite a few in Germany.

About 8-10% of all babies see the light of day before their due date. For most babies born before 37 weeks gestation, this is not a problem. Fortunately, medical care is so well developed these days that many things can be clarified in advance and appropriate measures can be taken.

Not only the week of pregnancy is decisive for a premature birth, but also the calculated weight. This is usually followed by the further procedure and also whether the premature baby should be intensively cared for in special treatment centers (perinatal centres). Of course, the weight calculations can also vary greatly, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared for everything.

The doctors divide the premature babies into different groups:

  • Moderately premature babies: 36th week of pregnancy is complete, or the weight is less than 2500 grams
  • Very premature: 30th week of pregnancy is complete, or the weight is less than 1500 grams
  • Extremely premature: 27th week of pregnancy is completed or the weight is less than 1000 grams

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What are the chances of survival for premature babies?

Thanks to today's medicine, the chances of survival for premature babies are usually very good.

Premature babies, who are born between the 28th and 32nd week of gestation are almost 100% survivable.

The longer the baby can mature and grow in the womb, the better.

The limit of viability is arguably somewhere between the 22nd and 24th week of pregnancy. That always depends on how far the lungs are developed, for example, to be able to breathe at all.

What are the signs of a premature birth?

Fortunately, there are many good preventive medical check-ups during pregnancy. This means that any abnormalities can be examined more closely and intervened immediately if necessary.

Clear signs of a premature birth are:

  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Premature contractions. You can recognize these by the fact that they occur at short intervals (in contrast to practice or sink contractions), i.e. more than three times an hour and over a longer period of time.


If these signs appear, please see a doctor immediately!

Causes of premature birth

The causes of many premature births are unclear. Several factors often play a role, which together lead to a premature birth. Fortunately, some of these can be recognized early and treated accordingly.

Possible causes of premature birth can be:

  • Amniotic fluid infections
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • < li>Smoking and alcohol

  • Stress (difficult social conditions, mental stress)
  • Insufficient care of the child by the placenta
  • Malformation of the uterus
  • Pregnancy-related diseases such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or high blood pressure
  • Malformations of the child

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How can you prevent premature birth?


First of all, it has to be said again that today's premature babies have far better chances of surviving than they did a few years ago.< /p>

On the one hand, this is due to the better medical circumstances and, on the other hand, to the better preventive care.

The risk of a premature birth, or the dangers that emanate from such a birth, can be reduced by regular preventive care .

You should also avoid nicotine (smoking) and alcohol.

Also make sure you have a “healthy” diet (nutrition during pregnancy) and sufficient exercise and sport (sport during pregnancy Pregnancy). This is how you avoid being overweight or underweight.

A leisurely walk in the fresh air is always good to relieve and shake off any stress.

If you are under pressure at work, or even If you are exposed to physical stress, you may be banned from working.

Of course, you cannot protect yourself against everything. However, if you recognize the signs early, there are a number of things you can do to postpone the birth for as long as possible. Because every day that the baby can grow in the womb is worth its weight in gold!