Premature Birth

This information is useful for children
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Yale Medicine is recognized as a national leader in the prevention of hospital-acquired infections in the NICU.
  • A multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists and others follows the progress of the NICU “graduates” to ensure that all needed services are in place in order to optimize long-term outcomes.
  • Yale Medicine conducts clinical research projects in an ongoing effort to improve the treatments available to premature babies.

A pregnancy that runs its full term lasts 40 weeks, calculated from the start of the mother’s last menstrual cycle. Babies born before the beginning of the 37th week are considered premature. Crucial development continues to occur those last few weeks of pregnancy, including lung growth that ensures adequate breathing and maturation of the digestive system, to ensure proper digestion of nutrients.

Babies born prematurely may face medical and developmental complications but, with time and care, usually  grow into happy, healthy children, says Mark R. Mercurio, MD, MA, Chief, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine; Director, Program for Biomedical Ethics, and professor of Pediatrics at Yale Medicine. 

“Some children born prematurely may have troubles, ranging from mild to severe,” he says. “But most are not going to have severe long-term disabilities. The vast majority of babies born under 28 weeks now leave our unit alive, and most will not have severe long term problems associated with preterm birth.”