United States

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Quick Facts: Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is defined as a live birth before 37 completed weeks gestation. Some other classifications of preterm births include late preterm (34-36 weeks), moderately preterm (32-36 weeks) and very preterm (<32 weeks). These classifications are useful because they often correspond to clinical characteristics - increasing morbidities or illnesses with decreasing gestational age. Babies born too soon are often born too small. While the causes of preterm birth and low birthweight may be different in some cases, there is significant overlap within these populations of infants.

• In 2017, 1 in 10 babies (9.9% of live births) was born preterm in the United States.
• The rate of preterm birth in the United States is highest for black infants (13.4%), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (10.8%), Hispanics (9.2%), whites (8.9%) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.6%).
• Compared with singleton births (one baby), multiple births in the United States were about 8 times as likely to be preterm in 2016.
• For more detailed data, click on the topic edit button in search tool on left side, select one of the Subtopics from drop down list under this topic. Here you'll find more graphs, maps, and tables that pertain to this topic.
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March of Dimes 2020 Goal

  • Reduce preterm births to no more than 8.1% of live births.
  • For more information, see here.

Healthy people 2020

  • Preterm births: reduce to no more than 11.4% of live births.


  • National Center for Health Statistics, final natality data.
  • Retrieved October 22, 2019, from www.marchofdimes.org/peristats.