Children And Youth
Preterm Births

Preterm Births

What does this measure?

The percentage of babies born 4 weeks before the mother's due date, out of all live births. This means the gestational age of the baby is less than 36 weeks.

Why is this important?

Preterm babies have a higher prevalence of four major disabilities (cerebral palsy, mental retardation, vision impairment and hearing loss), all of which require special education services. In addition, preterm babies are at greater risk for lower cognitive scores and behavioral problems. Care for the babies is expensive, averaging nearly $300,000 in the first year. And premature births are sometimes associated with maternal smoking, alcohol or drug use, depression or experiencing abuse.

How is our county doing?

In 2021, 10% of Essex County births were preterm, similar to the state rate and lower than the national rate of 12%. Rates have remained steady in Essex County since 2000, when the rate was 9%, with the exception of its peak of 13% in 2007. SThe number of premature babies In Essex County peaked at 1,164 in 2007 and was 868 in 2021, similar to 895 in 2000.

How do we compare to other counties?

In 2021, the preterm birth rate in Essex County was very similar to Middlesex, MA (10%) and slightly below Lake, IL and Westchester, NY (both at 11%). Since 2012, the preterm birth rate in Essex County has been relatively unchanged, similar to its comparison counties.

Notes about the data

The proportion is calculated out of all live births, except those for which gestational age is unknown.

Preterm Births
Essex County, MA9%10%11%11%12%12%12%13%11%10%10%9%10%11%10%10%10%10%10%11%10%10%
Middlesex County, MA9%10%10%11%11%11%11%11%11%11%11%10%10%10%9%9%9%9%10%9%9%10%
Lake County, IL11%11%11%11%12%12%12%12%12%11%11%11%11%11%11%11%11%12%11%11%10%11%
Westchester County, NY12%11%12%12%11%12%12%13%13%13%13%11%11%11%12%11%11%12%12%11%11%11%

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Number of Preterm Births
Essex County, MA8959241,0291,0571,0891,0471,0771,164980900799806846921828841861874820898816868
Middlesex County, MA1,7801,8521,9201,9491,9591,8981,9741,9841,9811,9541,9001,7051,7521,7101,5601,5321,5441,5801,5961,5071,4911,530
Lake County, IL1,1291,2041,1541,1761,2171,1611,1741,2171,112983948925858893888871878877779777689758
Westchester County, NY1,4991,4111,5331,5361,4321,4801,4831,5661,5551,4311,4421,2171,1371,1981,2621,2181,1511,2051,1741,0871,0171,066

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention