The epidemiology, etiology, and costs of preterm birth

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016 Apr;21(2):68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2015.12.011. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


After decades of rising preterm birth rates in the USA and other countries, recent prematurity rates seem to be on the decline. Despite this optimistic trend, preterm birth rates remain higher in the USA, where nearly one in every eight infants is born early, compared to other developed countries. The prevention of preterm birth is considered a public health priority because of the potential to reduce infant and childhood morbidity and mortality related to this condition. Unfortunately, progress has been modest. One of the greatest challenges in studying this outcome is that preterm birth is a complex condition resulting from multiple etiologic pathways. Recently, experts have developed innovative frameworks for classifying and studying preterm birth based on phenotype. These proposed classification systems have only recently been adopted, but a different perspective on a longstanding problem has the potential to lead to new discoveries.

Keywords: Cost; Epidemiology; Preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Global Burden of Disease
  • Global Health*
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / economics
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / etiology*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / economics
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth / etiology*
  • Premature Birth / physiopathology