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Health Indicator Report of Preterm Birth

Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is the leading cause of perinatal death in otherwise normal newborns and is a leading cause of long-term neurological disabilities in children. Infants born before 32 weeks gestation bear the biggest burden representing more than 50 percent of infant deaths. Babies born preterm also have increased risks for long-term morbidities and often require intensive care after birth. Healthcare costs and length of hospital stay are higher for premature infants. For a preterm infant without complications, average hospital stays are three times longer than a term infant, and for a preterm infant with complications, average hospital stays are over seven times longer than a term infant. Utah inpatient hospital discharge data (2019) indicate that average hospital charges for a premature infant were $90,734 (DRG 790, 791, 792) compared to $4,127 for a term newborn infant (DRG 795). Utah inpatient hospital discharge data (2019) indicate that the average length of stay for a premature infant was 16 days (DRG 790, 791, 792) compared to 2 days for a term newborn infant (DRG 795).


Note: County represents county of mother's residence. * Use caution in interpreting rates for Piute County, the estimates have a coefficient of variation >30% and are therefore deemed unreliable by Utah Department of Health standards. ** The estimates for Daggett county have been suppressed because 1) the relative standard error is greater than 50% or the relative standard error can't be determined or 2) the observed number of events is very small and not appropriate for publication. 2021 U.S. data is provisional. Preterm birth is calculated by obstetric estimate.

Data Sources

  • Utah Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health
  • National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Data Interpretation Issues

Reporting of preterm birth (PTB) trends has been complicated by a change in how gestational age (GA) is reported by the National Center for Health Statistics. PTB is defined as a birth less than 37 weeks gestation. Historically, GA was calculated by the mother's last menstrual period (LMP) and PTB rates were reported this way. Since the 2003 revision of the birth certificate, GA is also reported by obstetric estimate (OE), which is considered more accurate. Beginning in 2010, national rates are reported using OE and are not consistent with rates reported before 2010. Utah rates have been reported using OE since 1996.


The number of live births under 37 weeks gestation divided by the total number of live births over the same time period.


Number of live born infants born less than 37 weeks gestation.


Total number of live births.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce total preterm births

U.S. Target: 9.4 percent
State Target: 8.9 percent

Other Objectives

The Healthy People 2030 has an objective of reducing Preterm Births- MICH-07 with a baseline of 10% (2018) and a goal of 9.4%.

How Are We Doing?

The Utah preterm birth rate increased from 8.8% in 1990 to a high of 10.1% in 2005. The rate has remained under 10% from 2006 to the present. The Utah preterm birth rate increased by 6.6% in 2021, going from 9.27% in 2020 to 9.88% in 2021.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The U.S. preterm birth rate, defined as the percentage of infants born at less than 37 completed weeks of gestation, increased to 10.48% in 2021 from 10.09% in 2020. This is the highest reported since 2007 (10.44%). From 2007 (the most recent year for which national data are available based on the obstetric estimate of gestation) to 2014, the rate dropped by 8%, then rose by 7% from 2014 (9.57%) to 2019. Available from: []. The Utah 2020 rate of 9.88% is below the national rate but above the Healthy People 2030 goal of 9.4%. In 2007, the U.S. began reporting preterm birth rates based on obstetric estimates rather than based on the last menstrual period (LMP) making it difficult to compare Utah to the U.S. farther back than 2007. The obstetric estimate has been shown to more accurately reflect the true gestational age of the infant than LMP.

What Is Being Done?

Approximately half of the preterm births in Utah are due to complications of the pregnancy (multiple births, placental problems, fetal distress, infections) or maternal health factors such as high blood pressure or uterine malformations. The remaining preterm births have unexplained causes. In an effort to reduce the preterm birth rate, emphasis is being placed on maternal preconception health to help women achieve optimal health prior to pregnancy. Some ways women can achieve optimal health include stopping the use of tobacco and alcohol, controlling chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and obtaining an optimal pre-pregnancy weight. Early and continuous prenatal care is encouraged to detect problems that may arise during pregnancy. Education should be provided on the urgent maternal warning signs ( and the importance of recognition and treatment for these symptoms. Standards for assisted reproductive technology should be followed to reduce the frequency of twins or higher-order multiple pregnancies. Pregnant women should also be referred for appropriate services such as Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) and psychosocial counseling. The maternal committee of the Utah Women and Newborns Quality Collaborative (UWNQC) worked to prevent recurrent spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB) in women with a previous history of SPTB. This team developed a series of videos on preterm birth prevention. The committee has produced materials to help educate families who have delivered prematurely on what they can do to reduce the chances of preterm birth from happening in future pregnancies. In addition, the maternal committee has worked on access to immediate postpartum long-acting reversible contraception as well as other family planning access.

Available Services

'''Baby Your Baby Hotline:''' 1-800-826-9662[[br]] A public resource to answer pregnancy related questions and locate services. '''The Power Your Life website:''' [][[br]] Public education about how to be at optimal health prior to pregnancy.[[br]] [[br]] Social media for Power Your Life include: *Facebook: [] *Twitter: @Poweryourlife2 *Pinterest: [][[br]] [[br]] '''Utah Tobacco Quit Line:''' 1-888-567-8788 '''Utah Women and Newborn Quality Collaborative:''' [][[br]] Provider and patient education about improving maternal and neonatal outcomes through collaborative efforts centered on quality improvement methodology and data sharing. '''MotherToBaby:'''[[br]] Phone - 1-800-822-2229[[br]] Text - 1-855-999-3525[[br]] Email -[[br]] Live Chat- [][[br]] A service to answer questions about what's safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding.[[br]] [[br]] Social media for MotherToBaby include: *Facebook: [] *Twitter: @MotherToBaby *Pinterest: [][[br]] [[br]] '''Baby Watch Early Intervention Hotline:''' 1-800-961-4226[[br]] Utah's network of services for children, birth to three years of age, with developmental delay or disabilities. '''March of Dimes''' [][[br]] The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.[[br]] *Facebook: [][[br]] *Twitter: @MarchofDimes[[br]] *YouTube: [][[br]] [[br]] '''University of Utah Health Care Parent-to-Parent Support Group:''' 1-801-581-2098[[br]] Support Program for families of high risk/critically ill newborns.

Page Content Updated On 12/05/2022, Published on 12/21/2022
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 22 June 2024 4:24:54 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 21 Dec 2022 09:14:52 MST