Preterm birth (Latin: partus praetemporaneus or partus praematurus) or premature birth is the birth of a baby of less than 37 weeks gastational age; such a baby is sometimes referred to as a “preemie” or “premmie”, depending on local pronunciation. The cause of preterm birth is in many situations elusive and unknown; many factors appear to be associated with the development of preterm birth, making the reduction of preterm birth a challenging proposition. The baby is born before the developing organs are mature enough to allow normal postnatal survival. Premature infants are at greater risk for short and long term complications, including disabilities and impediments in growth and mental development. Significant progress has been made in the care of premature infants. Preterm birth is among the top causes of death in infants worldwide.
Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.) are a significant factor in preterm birth. The March of Dimes Multicenter Prematurity and Prevention Study found that 54% of twins were delivered preterm vs. 9.6% of singleton births. Triplets and more are even more endangered.
Often labour has to be induced for medical reasons; such conditions include high blood pressure, pre-eclipse, maternal diabetes, asthma, thyroid disease, and heart disease. The mental status of the women is of significance. Anxiety and Depression have been linked to preterm birth.
Preterm babies, especially very early born babies, are born by a caesarean section. Often they have to stay for a longer time in hospital until they are stable enough to go home. This two facts lead often to a lack of sensory input. A healthy child going through a normal birth process experiences a variety of sensations on the brain. This is the beginning of a healthy development of the brain and goes on with being moved and carried, cuddled, all senses are intensively involved. The preterm baby is missing all this inputs and without a special massage-technique, handling and care this baby will have a delayed development still recognizable until it is going to primary-school.