Causes of Premature Babies

Updated at: Sep 12, 2011
Causes of Premature Babies

Newborn Care- Lifestyle and health ailment of mother during pregnancy mainly lead to premature babies.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Newborn CareWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 12, 2011

Most babies are born after 37th week of gestation, but some of the deliveries occur before the 37 weeks. Babies born before 37 weeks of gestation are considered premature (the baby may be born between twenty four and thirty seven weeks of gestation). Most of the premature babies are born due to high risk pregnancy. Here are some of the common causes of preterm delivery or premature baby.


  • Multiple Babies: The risk of having premature babies is higher in women carrying twins, triplets or more. It is probably due to overstretching of the uterus.
  • Lifestyle: It is well known that smoking, taking drugs and drinking too much alcohol during pregnancy can cause premature delivery. Besides premature delivery, several other problems such as low birth weight and birth defects can occur in the baby. Other lifestyle factors that increase the risk of premature birth are poor prenatal care, poor nutrition and extreme stress.
  • Infections: According to experts and studies, certain infections in the amniotic fluid or foetal membranes increase the risk of premature delivery. Other infections such as periodontal disease also increase the risk of premature labour.
  • Maternal or Foetal Diseases: Both maternal and foetal diseases can cause premature delivery. Maternal disease such as hypertension, preeclampsia, anaemia and diabetes, can lead to preterm labour. Foetal problems such as birth defects or growth restriction can also cause premature delivery.
  • Placental, Cervical and Uterine Problems: Anomalies or disease of the uterus, cervix or placenta such as uterine abnormalities, incompetent cervix, placenta previa, and placental abruption can lead to a premature delivery or premature baby.
  • Other causes: At times, the doctor may induce preterm labour if the health of the mother or the baby is in danger due to a certain complication such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. In most cases the doctors try to induce delivery as near to term as possible. Trauma to the mother due to accident, domestic violence or any other cause can also induce premature labour.

Many causes of premature babies like anaemia, diabetes, smoking, drugs and drinking are avoidable. The premature babies are not physically ready for life outside the womb hence extra care and medical attention may be needed after delivery. Medical science has made a lot of progress and even very premature babies with good medical care and attention can be saved and they can go on to lead healthy lives.


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