What are the Possible Causes of Premature Birth?


What are the Possible Causes of Premature Birth?

As per statistics and data, around 13.4 million babies were preterm infants in the year 2020. When a normal pregnancy usually takes 37 weeks of gestational period, a premature baby born before the completion of 37 weeks. Preterm babies may have to face health complications, which has also led to the premature death of around 9 lakh babies in 20191, which occurs mostly under the age of 5. 

Such a high number of infant mortality in premature babies is an alarming situation for all those mothers and families having a preterm baby. Causes of premature birth can be many, including spontaneous reasons. With proper health monitoring and guidance from a doctor, the situation can be controlled, or the baby can be nourished better so it grows healthy. This article helps you understand the causes of preterm birth and related complications.

What is Preterm Birth? 

As discussed above, a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is termed a premature baby. In a normal pregnancy, a baby is born at around 37-40 weeks. Doctors suggest mothers be extra careful in the concluding weeks of pregnancy as it is crucial for the overall development of the baby. A premature baby may experience physical or mental problems which may require long-term medical attention. 

What are the Causes of Premature Birth?

Reasons for premature birth can be many. Let's understand premature delivery reasons:

Health Issues in a Pregnant Woman

The health of the child bearer has a lot to do with the health of the baby. Health problems in the mother can directly impact her pregnancy and may lead to preterm labour complications. The health conditions that can be the cause of premature labour are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure 
  • Kidney diseases
  • Heart diseases

Poor Nutritional Intake

If the mother is not having a sufficient nutritional diet during and before pregnancy, it can cause premature birth of the baby. So, make sure to have a healthy diet. You may also consult your doctor for better advice.

Consumption of Intoxicants

Intoxicants like smoking, alcohol consumption, or illegal drugs are harmful to anyone at any point in life. It can be especially harmful for pregnant women. Hence, it is best to stop consuming intoxicants when you start planning pregnancy.


Some women may catch infections during pregnancy, which may become preterm labour causes. It may include infections in the urinary tract, amniotic membrane, etc.

History of Premature Birth

It may also happen that women with a history of premature birth in a previous pregnancy may be at a higher risk of low birth weight and prematurity. Proper healthcare and medical attention can be helpful.


Apart from the aforementioned, several other complications may also be reasons for premature labour, like weak cervix opening, abnormal uterus, unhealthy weight, etc. Also, early pregnancy, like those in 16-17 years of age or above 35 years of age, may be the causes of preterm labour.

Health Problems in Premature Infants

A baby is expected to be healthy when the gestational period goes normal up to 37-40 weeks. However, if the baby is born early, health complications are expected with the baby. The sooner the baby is born, the higher the chances of premature birth complications, like:

  • Problem in breathing
  • Fluctuating body temperature
  • Low body weight and size
  • Problem in movement
  • Low body fat
  • Pale skin or abnormally yellow skin
  • Difficulty feeding the baby
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Pulmonary haemorrhage, which is bleeding in the lungs
  • Low blood sugar level
  • A blood infection called Neonatal sepsis is caused by bacteria
  • Pneumonia
  • Hole in the blood vessel of the heart
  • Underdeveloped lungs
  • Anemia

Taking Care of a Premature Infant

A premature baby needs additional care and continuous observation. Since the body may show signs of health complications like underdeveloped organs, uncontrolled body temperature and weight, the premature infant needs to be kept in the hospital for a few weeks.

In case doctors predict premature delivery, they may suggest medications to the mother so that the premature infant complications can be avoided. However, in case a premature birth is inevitable, necessary arrangements are made for the mother and the baby. A hospital with NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) is advised for delivery. Such a hospital has arrangements for premature infant complications that can be dealt with immediately after delivery. Not just the baby, but in some conditions, the mother may suffer health complications that need hospitalisation. Hence, a well-planned pregnancy health insurance is always recommended.

Once the preterm baby is born, it may be shifted to incubation in order to maintain adequate body temperature, which may not be possible otherwise. Doctors try their best to comfort the baby. When it comes to feeding a premature baby, it may not be possible through the mouth. In such a case, intravenous can be used, or pipes can be used through the mouth or nose to feed the baby. Doctors also regularly monitor the breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and blood oxygen level of the baby. 

In some cases, where the baby may have further complications of breathing, the doctor may use a ventilator or oxygen hood for the baby. It helps in healthy breathing. Once the baby is healthy enough to breastfeed via mouth and has a stable body temperature, the doctor may allow discharge. Even after release, one has to make sure to visit the doctor regularly with the baby.

Staying Healthy During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a joyous journey that needs women and families to be extra careful. Some days can be great, while some may be sick and filled with mood swings. All of these changes make it obvious for you to be worried about your baby’s health around this time. Soon-to-be moms must keep a tab on every important detail, including nutritional intake, physical exercise needed, and a happy mood. These ensure your baby and you are healthy. Health issues and poor life habits of the women may lead to preterm causes. Hence, it is quintessential for both the baby and the mother to have a healthy lifestyle. Also, regular medical check-ups are a must.

Final Word

Pregnancy is a phase that should be filled with enjoyment, good health, and blessings for the coming member. Negligence, poor lifestyle, and ignorance of health complications may all lead to pregnancy complications. These may become reasons for preterm labour. Hence, the basic step is to stay healthy. 

However, you need to keep in mind that sometimes, no matter how careful you are, there will be things that  are beyond your control. But you can take a charge of things that you can fix and plan accordingly like investing in a health plan at the right time. 

Once you have started planning for a family, make sure to invest in a maternity health plan like those offered by Care Health Insurance. It ensures you have strong financial support in times of need.

>> Also Read: How to Get Newborn Baby Health Insurance Cover?


1. The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.

2. All plan features, benefits, coverage, and claims underwriting are subject to policy terms and conditions. Kindly refer to the brochure, sales prospectus, and policy documents carefully.

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