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Preterm Labor

Based on a recent study (May 2012) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (a non-profit education and advocacy group) there are an estimated 15 million babies born preterm worldwide every year, and this number is rising. Across the 184 selected countries, a range of 5% to 18% of babies are born preterm every year. In the United States, about 12% (~500,000 babies) are born before their due date.

Preterm birth is not just an extremely emotional situation for the parents and healthcare professionals, it is the leading cause of newborn deaths (babies in the first four weeks of life). A million babies die annually from preterm birth complications. Preterm birth is also the second leading cause of death (after pneumonia) in children under five years. Others face many challenges to survive:

  • Low birth weight
  • Underdeveloped lungs at risk for serious lung conditions
  • Underdeveloped organs or organ systems
  • Greater risk for life-threatening infections

Definition of Preterm Birth


Live birth prior to 37 weeks gestation.

There are three sub-categories, based on gestational age:


  • extremely preterm (<28 weeks)
  • very preterm (28 to <32 weeks)
  • moderate to late preterm (32 to <37 weeks)

Induction or caesarean birth should not be planned prior to 39 weeks gestation unless medically indicated.

Why does preterm birth occur?


Even if the generally accepted and prescribed methods for maintaining a healthy pregnancy are followed, it is still possible to experience pre-term labor resulting in pre-term birth. One known risk factor is a prior preterm birth. There are a variety of other reasons for preterm labor: genetic influence, multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.


How to prevent preterm birth?

Researchers found out that women who have a history of preterm birth can be treated with progesterone to reduce the risk of a repeat. Other treatments have not yet shown such good results and this treatment is not intended for women with multiple pregnancies or other risk factors. A commonly used method is bed rest and a medication that relaxes the muscles in the uterus.

Since the number of preterm births is rising, the need for preventive therapies is growing. Based on the product sales, the US market size approximate is $90 - 100 million in 2011, with the potential for growth with the advent of new indications.


© 2017 Evestra, Inc.