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Health Indicator Report of Preterm Births

Prematurity increases the risk for infant morbidity and mortality. Infants born preterm are at greater risk of dying in the first month of life. Preterm infants may require intensive care at birth and are at higher risk of developmental disabilities and chronic illnesses throughout life. They are more likely to require special education services. Health care costs and length of hospital stay are higher for preterm infants.


Data for White, Black, and Asian do not include Hispanics. Hispanic ethnicity includes persons of any race.

Data Source

Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, New Jersey Department of Health

Data Interpretation Issues

The New Jersey Department of Health has been using the obstetric estimate (OE) to determine gestational age since 1989, while the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) had been calculating it using date of last menstrual period (LMP). In 2003, NCHS changed the standard for gestational period from the LMP-based gestational age to the OE-based gestational age. OE-based gestational age for U.S. data became available for years 2007 and later in February, 2016. Data in reports published prior to February, 2016 will not match data shown here. Refer to [ Measuring Gestational Age in Vital Statistics Data: Transitioning to the Obstetric Estimate] for more information.


Percent of live born infants born before 37 weeks of gestation based on obstetric estimate Preterm is synonymous with premature. Infants born at or after 37 weeks of pregnancy are called full term. Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks.


Number of live born infants born before 37 weeks of gestation to resident mothers


Number of live infants born to resident mothers

Healthy People Objective: Reduce preterm births

U.S. Target: 11.4 percent

How Are We Doing?

The percentage of infants born preterm (before 37 weeks of gestation) among New Jersey residents rose from 7.3% in 1990 to 10.4% in the mid-2000s. In 2016, the rate stood at 9.9%. Nearly three-quarters of preterm births are late preterm (34-36 weeks gestational age). The rate varies by several maternal and infant characteristics. The rate among Blacks is 56% higher than the rates among Whites and Asians, however, Blacks are the only racial/ethnic group that hasn't experienced an overall increase in preterm births in the past decade. The rate among Black mothers is higher for mothers born in the US than those born elsewhere. Among Hispanics, the highest rate is among those mothers who were born in a US territory (predominantly Puerto Rico), followed by those born in the 50 states and DC. The preterm rate among Hispanic mothers born outside of the US and its territories is significantly lower. More than half of twins and nearly all triplets are born preterm, compared to 7.6% of singletons. County rates range from 7.8% in Cape May County to 11.9% in Passaic County.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

The preterm birth rate in New Jersey is about the same as that of the national as a whole.

What Is Being Done?

The [ Division of Family Health Services] in the New Jersey Department of Health administers programs to enhance the health, safety and well-being of families and communities in New Jersey. Several programs are aimed at improving birth outcomes.

Evidence-based Practices

[ CDC Preterm Birth Activities] [ CDC Grand Rounds: Public Health Strategies to Prevent Preterm Birth]
Page Content Updated On 04/18/2018, Published on 04/19/2018
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Mon, 16 July 2018 14:33:29 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

Content updated: Wed, 23 May 2018 05:01:08 EDT