In Canada approximately 1 in 12 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 world-wide. – www.who.int
Alberta has the highest preterm birth rate of the 10 provinces. This equals about 4700 babies born prematurely in Alberta per year – www.childrenshospital.ab.ca
A term pregnancy is considered as delivery occurring after 37 completed gestational weeks. Medical care may be provided to babies born as early as 22 or 23 weeks, depending on the designation and capacity of the hospital.
While the average term infant weighs approximately 3.2kg (7 1⁄2 pounds), the smallest premature infants may weigh just over 0.5kg (1 pound).
Infant deaths account for a large proportion of child deaths with more newborns dying from premature birth than from any other cause.
While the majority of babies born prematurely do well, the effects of prematurity may last a lifetime with the most common problems being developmental disabilities.
When a baby is born early, the experience can be frightening and overwhelming for family and friends. While many babies require only a brief hospital stay, others have to spend weeks to months in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The NICU is a section of the hospital that provides round-the-clock care to premature or sick infants. It has specialized equipment and highly trained nurses, doctors, and other health professionals who aim to provide the best possible care for each baby and his/her family. This time in hospital may be a roller-coaster of excitement and disappointment, joy and worry, good days and bad.