What are the causes? Pre-eclampsia is an established reason for the medical team to decide that it would be safer for mother and baby if the delivery was early. Other factors that may contribute to premature births are early breaking of the waters, smoking by the mother, acute or prolonged stress in the mother, the mother having a poor diet, the mother abusing drugs and certain infections in the mother. Multiple births may deliver early. In some cases the cause of premature birth may not be known. How is it treated? Providing breathing support and therapy to improve the function of the lungs is important initially, but breathing support may be needed for many weeks in the most immature babies. Jaundice is treated with special lights over the baby and nutritional and fluid needs may be provided by infusions into a vein and with tube feeds into the stomach. Drugs may be required to close a connection between two blood vessels close to the heart if they do not close spontaneously and babies are closely monitored for signs of any infection and for the development of anaemia, which may require blood transfusion to correct it. Keeping the baby warm and experiencing appropriate contact with parents is a vital part of care and the nurses will be encouraging contact from the earliest days. Some babies, particularly if born very early or with severe infections may not be able to be helped to survive. Parents and other family members nowadays receive much professional support in these very sad situations. Inheritance patterns and prenatal diagnosis Inheritance patternsInapplicable in most cases. Some inherited disorders contribute to the premature birth of a baby. Prenatal diagnosisThe likelihood of a premature birth may occasionally be predicted earlier in the pregnancy if a known cause is identified in the mother. Generally, the cause of premature birth is often unclear. Is there support? Bliss Helpline: 0500 618 140Email: email@example.comWebsite: bliss.org.uk Bliss is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No.1002973. It supports parents and families of premature or sick babies, providing a range of support options and information. Group details last updated October 2023. Tommy’s Pregnancy Information Line: 0800 0147 800Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHelpline: tommys.org The Organisation is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 1060508. It provides information for parents-to-be on stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage, and funds research into pregnancy problems. It took over the work of the Toxoplasmosis Trust and provides information on Toxoplasmosis infection in pregnancy. Group details last updated September 2014.