Estimating the incidence of preterm birth depends on accurate assessment of gestational age and pregnancy outcomes. In many countries, such data are not routinely collected, making global estimates difficult. A recent systematic approach to this problem has estimated a worldwide incidence of 11.1 per 100 live births in 2010. Significant variation in rates by country and region of the world was noted, but this variation is smaller than observed for a number of other important reproductive outcomes. Rates range from approximately 5% in some northern European countries to over 15% in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Time trends suggest that preterm birth incidence is increasing, but much of this change may reflect changes in medically induced early delivery practices as improvements in survival of preterm infants has improved. Whether there have been major changes in spontaneous preterm birth is unknown. New approaches to classifying etiologic heterogeneity have been proposed and offer the promise of developing specific interventions to address the range of underlying causes of this important health problem.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics