Topic Overview

Delivery before the 37th week is called a premature, or preterm, delivery. A premature delivery can cause problems for the infants if their organs are not fully developed. Infants delivered before 32 weeks have greater health risks than those who are delivered at 32 weeks of gestation or later.

Multiple pregnancies seldom reach the usual 40-week due date:footnote 1

  • For twins, the average time to delivery is 36 to 37 weeks.
  • For triplets, the average time is 33 weeks.
  • For quadruplets, the average time is 31 weeks.

After delivery, most premature babies need care in a hospital unit called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Care in the NICU can last days or weeks, depending on a baby's condition and the amount of specialized care the baby needs.

For more information, see Preterm Labor and Premature Infant.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Bush MC, Pernoll ML (2013). Multiple gestation. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 11th ed., pp. 301–309. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
William Gilbert MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine