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Any infant born at less than 37 weeks gestation is by definition "premature." Most infants born at 35 to 37 weeks gestation are relatively healthy, and they often have only brief hospital stays in newborn nurseries. The problems associated with premature infants occur with greater frequency in those of lower gestational age at birth, typically less than 35 weeks gestation.
Premature births remain a medical mystery Doctors have no way of knowing which pregnancies will be preterm, and in about half of all cases, they don’t know why a mother delivers early. However, science is beginning to divulge some clues, such as social stress, bacterial infection and hereditary influences, which might be tied to early births. Louis Muglia, Ph.D., M.D., Edward Claiborne Stahlman Professor and Vice Chair for Research Affairs in Pediatrics, Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, is quoted.