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Are You A Mother Who Is Prone To Premature Birth?


The typical time frame for going into labor is 40 weeks. According to WHO, premature or preterm is defined as babies that are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy. 

 Babies that are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy is under premature delivery category

Babies that are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy is under premature delivery category.


For a more specific baby premature subcategory, when babies born:

i) Less than 28 weeks – extremely preterm

ii) Within 28 to 32 weeks –  very preterm

iii) From 32 to 37 weeks – moderate to late preterm



Globally, prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years. And in almost all countries with reliable data, preterm birth rates are increasing.



The cause of a premature birth often cannot be identified by the health care professionals. However, there are certain factors that increases the premature birth:

  • History of having premature baby
  • Being pregnant with multiples
  • Infections (urinary tract infections, vaginal infections etc.)
  • Short time (less than 18 months) between pregnancies
  • Weight bearing age (<17 years old & >35 years old)


Also, poor nutrition and lifestyle before and during pregnancy are associated with premature birth:

  • Uncontrolled blood sugar/ diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Underweight 
  • Alcohol and tobacco and drug use

Signs and symptoms of preterm labor



Many premature babies, but not all may have more medical problems and may require a longer hospital stay, often in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). These includes:

  • Breathing problems
  • Feeding issues
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Circulation problems
  • Blood infection
  • Low birth weight
Effects of premature birth on Baby & Mother

Effects of premature birth on Baby & Mother


Preventing preterm birth as well as all the unwanted complications starts with a healthy pregnancy. Quality care before and during pregnancy will ensure all women have a positive pregnancy experience. 

WHO suggested several guidelines including the key interventions to help prevent preterm birth, such as: 

  • Ultrasound to help identify gestational age 
  • Detect multiple pregnancies
  • Healthy diet and optimal nutrition
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol consumption and drug use



Having good nutrition before and during pregnancy may help to reduce the risk of premature birth.


Article written by:

Christabelle Chong (Dietitian)

Registered Member of Malaysian Dietitians’ Association (MDA)




  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2021). Premature Birth. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/features/premature-birth/index.html 
  2. Healthline (2016). Premature Infant. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/premature-infant 
  3. World Health Organization (WHO) (2018). Preterm Birth. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preterm-birth
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