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Health Indicator Report of Very Preterm Birth

Premature birth is a serious health problem. Premature babies are at an increased risk for newborn health complications, as well as lasting disabilities such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung and gastrointestinal problems, vision and hearing loss, and even death. Poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are dependent on a variety of different factors. Some of these factors are well known while many others have not been identified. Some known risk factors for having poor reproductive health and birth outcomes are pregnancy history, exposures to infections, exposure to environmental chemicals, poor medical care, chronic health issues, socioeconomic factors, and the use of medicines, alcohol, drugs or tobacco.

Data Source

Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Utah Department of Health


A typical pregnancy last around 40 weeks. Babies that are born between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy are called full term. Babies that are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are called premature. Babies that are born between 22 and 32 weeks of pregnancy are called very premature. About 12.5 percent of babies (more than half a million per year) in the United States are born prematurely. For reasons that are not fully understood, the rate of premature birth has increased by more than 30 percent since 1981.


Number of live infant births occurring before 32 weeks of gestation during a specific time period.


Total number of live infant births during a specific time period.

Healthy People Objective: Reduce very preterm or live births at less than 32 weeks of gestation

U.S. Target: 1.8 percent

What Is Being Done?

In an effort to reduce the low birth weight rate, emphasis has been placed on preconception care to assist women in achieving optimal pregnancy spacing and to attain their optimal pre-pregnancy weight. Chronic maternal disease such as hypertension and diabetes should be diagnosed and treated prior to conception. Programs to reduce tobacco use during pregnancy have been developed and research continues into the role of periodontal disease in pregnancy on low birth weight. Women are also encouraged to seek early and continuous care throughout their pregnancies and to achieve an adequate weight gain during pregnancy. All women should receive a thorough formal risk assessment at their initial prenatal visit, with updates throughout pregnancy to identify risk factors for low birth weight and develop appropriate interventions, if needed. Multiple baby pregnancies put the babies at a higher risk of preterm birth. When using assisted reproductive technology, current standards should be followed to reduce this risk. Additionally, all women should be educated regarding the risks of pregnancy such as the importance of fetal kick counts to facilitate early recognition of problems to permit earlier intervention which can improving pregnancy outcomes. Pregnant women also need appropriate referrals to services such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program and psychosocial counseling.

Available Services

Utah's Baby Watch program provides early identification for developmental delays in children less than three years of age. In addition to identification, Baby Watch offers services to address developmental delays so the child may live a more normal healthy life. For more information, call 1-800-961-4226. Baby Your Baby is a Utah program that promotes adequate prenatal healthcare. In addition to providing information, Baby Your Baby offers financial assistance through a form of Prenatal Medicaid. For more information, call 1-800-826-9662. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health insurance to children from low-income families that do not have any other health insurance. For more information, call the CHIP Hotline for an application, at 1-877-KIDS-NOW. The Bureau of Children With Special Health Care Needs provides access and referrals to specialty care to children under the age of 18 with special health care needs. For more information, call 801-584-8284. The Maternal and Infant Health Program encourages health care providers to assess for risk factors associated with infant mortality. The Program also provides services to families who experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and other unexpected infant deaths. Contact the Program at 801-273-2871 and ask to speak to the SIDS Program Coordinator. Or checkout their [ website] or community [ resource guide]. The Utah Neonatal Follow-up Program complements primary care for at-risk infants. The program offers 2 year follow-up services to infants born with serious health risks such as prematurity, extremely low birth weight, hypoxic ischemic encephalophathy, or severe cardiac and respiratory impairments. For more information, email, or call 801-584-8246. The Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) is a program to provide supplemental food and nutrition education to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. For more information, call 1-877-WIC-KIDS.

Page Content Updated On 11/30/2018, Published on 03/03/2022
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 Fri, 14 June 2024 6:32:39 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 3 Mar 2022 18:53:47 MST