About Premature Birth

In the United States, approximately 4,000,000 births occur each year. Premature birth (also called ‘preterm birth’) is any birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, the preterm birth rate is 10.2% or more than 1 in 10 births resulting in 380,000 premature births each year. 


Premature birth is the leading cause of death among infants. Premature babies are at greater risk for cerebral palsy, respiratory and cardiovascular complications, and delays in development. 


The cost of premature birth impacted by a variety of factors. In 2007, the Institute of Medicine estimated the financial cost of premature birth was $26.2 billion (2005) in the U.S. There are several aspects included in this premature birth cost:

  • Labor and delivery costs for the mom
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) costs for the baby
  • Early intervention services to address disabilities and developmental delays
  • Special education services for long-term developmental/learning issues
  • Lost productivity for parents due to care of preemies and children with disabilities

> Labor/Delivery/NICU Costs –The March of Dimes estimates a premature baby costs 10 times more than a full-term baby. The quantifiable estimates are ~$50K for a preterm baby versus $5K for a full-term baby. These costs include the birth and extended hospital stay in the NICU for premature babies.

> Early Childhood Costs – During the first years, a premature baby may suffer from respiratory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal complications as well as inadequate temperature and metabolism control and anemia. The newborn may require treatments and monitoring to address the specific medical conditions. Babies born prematurely have on average 20 office visits during the first year compared to 14 visits for a full-term baby.

> Long-term Issues –Half of the individuals with cerebral palsy were born prematurely. Due to the neurological and respiratory issues associated with cerebral palsy, these patients require long-term monitoring and care. Additional long-term premature birth issues could include impaired cognitive skills, hearing and vision problems, and asthma. Recent research has been studying a possible link between premature birth and autism.

> Emotional Costs – Attending to premature babies results in lost work productivity for office visits and therapies. Other ‘soft’ costs of preterm birth include the emotional impact to the families relating to stress, allocation of attention and resources, and a high rate of divorce.

Several effective clinical interventions exist for preventing premature birth in at-risk pregnancies when predicted early. To learn more about these interventions please go to: https://www.pretrm.com/providers/patient-management

Predicting premature birth early has the potential to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Learn more about the PreTRM®blood test for predicting sPTB risk early.

Watch this 4 minute video on ‘We Can Do Better‘ with preterm birth.

The PreTRM test has been recognized by prestigious Innovation Awards for game-changing products derived from innovation, creativity and ingenuity.


“We can make a difference… one baby at a time, one family at a time. Premature birth is a top health problem since it affects almost 400,000 babies every year.”

-John Elliott, MD, Phoenix