Bulletin of the World Health Organization

The worldwide incidence of preterm birth: a systematic review of maternal mortality and morbidity

Stacy Beck, Daniel Wojdyla, Lale Say, Ana Pilar Betran, Mario Merialdi, Jennifer Harris Requejo, Craig Rubens, Ramkumar Menon & Paul FA Van Look

Volume 88, Number 1, January 2010, 31-38

Table 3. Preterm birth rates, number of preterm births by United Nations geographical region/subregion and percentage of births covered by the estimates in a systematic review of the worldwide incidence of preterm birth

Region/subregiona Preterm births
Preterm birth rate
Percent coverage of estimatesc
No. in 1000s 95% CIb % 95% CIb
World total 12 870 12 228–13 511 9.6 9.1–10.1 85.8
More developed countries 1 014 982–1 046 7.5 7.3–7.8
Less developed countries 7 685 7 109–8 261 8.8 8.1–9.4
Least developed countries 4 171 3 891–4 452 12.5 11.7–13.3
Africa 4 047 3 783–4 311 11.9 11.1–12.6 72.7
Eastern 1 686 1 481–1 891 14.3 12.5–16.0
Middle 602 535–669 11.6 10.3–12.9
Northern 407 290–523 8.7 6.2–11.2
Southern 228 191–265 17.5 14.6–20.3
Western 1 125 1 036–1 215 10.1 9.3–10.9
Asia 6 907 6 328–7 486 9.1 8.3–9.8 90.9
Eastern 724 650–798 3.8 3.4–4.1
South-central 4 467 3 944–4 991 11.4 10.0–12.7
South-eastern 1 271 1 062–1 480 11.1 9.3–13.0
Western 396 290–501 7.9 5.8–9.9
Central 49 21–77 3.8 1.6–5.9
Europe 466 434–498 6.2 5.8–6.7 94.8
LA and the Caribbean 933 858–1 009 8.1 7.5–8.8 79.3
Caribbean 48 33–63 6.7 4.7–8.8
Central America 295 263–326 9.1 8.2–10.1
South America 591 524–658 7.9 7.0–8.8
North Americad 480 479–482 10.6 10.5–10.6 100
Oceania 91.0
Australia/New Zealand 20 20–20 6.4 6.3–6.6
Rest of Oceania 16 11–20 6.4 4.6–8.2

CI, confidence interval; PI, prediction interval.
a Countries categorized according to United Nations classification.
b Whereas PIs were calculated for country estimates based on the model, CIs were derived for the regional/subregional aggregate estimates that utilized data from studies as well as modelled estimates.
c Refers to the proportion of live births for which data were available and model-based estimates were not generated.
d Excluding Mexico, which is included under Latin America.

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