Some facts from the new World Health Organization Report
Some preterm births result from early induction of labor or cesarean birth whether for medical or non-medical reasons. Most preterm births happen spontaneously. Common causes include multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure; however, often no cause is identified.
Over 60% of preterm births occur in Africa and South Asia . The 10 countries with the highest numbers include Brazil, the United States, India and Nigeria, demonstrating that preterm birth is truly a global problem. Of the 11 countries with preterm birth rates of over 15%, all but two are in
sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 2). In the poorest countries, on average, 12% of babies are born too soon compared with 9% in higher-income countries. Within countries, poorer
families are at higher risk.
There is a dramatic survival gap for premature babies depending on where they are born. For example, over 90% of extremely preterm babies (<28 weeks) born in low-income countries die within the first few days of life; yet less than 10% of babies of this gestation die in high-income settings, a 10:90 survival gap.