The NHMRC guidelines Care around preterm birth: A guide for parents is part of a national program aimed at developing clinical practice guidelines. Guidelines not only assist practitioners to make the best decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances, but also assist the decision-making of those people treated within the health system. Guidelines provide comprehensive, current information about health issues and include information on the most effective appropriate and up-to-date treatment options.
The overall goal of care around preterm birth is to avoid preterm birth. However, if that is not possible, care has two aims. Firstly, to ensure that babies are born under the best conditions possible with reduced morbidity and mortality. Secondly, to reduce morbidity in the mother and improve long-term family outcomes.
Preterm birth is fairly common - every year over six percent of pregnancies in Australia end in preterm birth. Being born too early is the single largest cause of death and illness for newborn babies. Fortunately the more serious very early preterm births are not so common, and major advances in medical treatment have greatly improved babies' outcomes.
This booklet is based on a more detailed publication Clinical practice guidelines for care around preterm birth.
This publication was rescinded on 31 December 2005.