A baby is considered premature (or preterm) when he or she is born before 39 weeks of gestation. Due to their underdeveloped bodily systems and difficulty handling life outside the womb, premature babies are at increased risk for complications including intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds), breathing problems, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and more. Most babies born after 28 weeks gestation do not have long-term disabilities from prematurity alone. Learn how to pronounce preterm birth here.
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