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What it is

When a baby is born too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy (about three weeks before a baby's expected due date). Preterm births affect about 1 out of 10 pregnancies in the U.S.

Why the concern

Research has linked early deliveries to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiac events and related hospitalizations in moms. In fact, a recent review of existing studies found that preterm birth is associated with up to a 2-fold higher chance of developing or dying from heart disease or stroke later in life. The risk of heart and vascular diseases appears to be even greater among women who:

  • Deliver before 32 weeks of pregnancy
  • Have had more than one preterm birth
  • Have a preterm birth due to a medical cause (not an early delivery that happens on its own)

What you can do

  • Tell your primary care doctor and other health care providers that you had a preterm birth. This information should be part of your ongoing health history long after the baby arrives.
  • Ask about doing a formal heart disease risk assessment
  • Work together to decide when and how often you need to be followed.
  • Live heart healthy by exercising daily, eating right, not smoking, managing stress, and knowing your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
  • Last Edited 03/11/2021