The Timing of Birth; March 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Smith; 8 Page(s)
Over the past 30 years, doctors have become increasingly skilled at saving premature babies-those born before the 38th week of gestation instead of at the more typical 40 weeks. Unfortunately, premature infants who survive are often afflicted by breathing difficulties, cerebral palsy, intellectual handicaps and other problems.
Six to 8 percent of all newborns arrive before term. Of those, perhaps half are delivered early because of spontaneous premature labor. In theory, then, interventions that prevented such labor could spare a great many infants from death or lifelong disability.