Early Term Birth

Understanding the Health Risks to Infants


  • Objectives

    Upon completion of this activity, the learner will be able to:

    1. Define early term birth and list the possible infant health consequences associated with early term birth.
    2. Describe research findings on knowledge of early term birth and on health outcomes of infants born early term.
    3. Describe nursing roles for educating patients and raising awareness about the potential consequences of early term birth.
  • The author and planners of this activity report no conflicts of interest or relevant financial relationships. There is no discussion of off-label drug or device use in this article.

  • Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) Credit

    A total of 1 contact hour may be earned as CNE credit for reading “Early Term Birth: Understanding the Health Risks to Infants,” and for completing an online post-test and participant feedback form.

    To take the test and complete the participant feedback form, please visit http://JournalsCNE.awhonn.org. Certificates of completion will be issued on receipt of the completed participant feedback form and processing fees.

    Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

    Accredited status does not imply endorsement by AWHONN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with an educational activity.

    AWHONN is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, provider #CEP580.

Address correspondence to: craighead@ulm.edu.


Early term birth, which occurs at 37 to 38 weeks gestation, is often elective and can carry significant health risks to infants, including short-term and long-term health outcomes. Nurses and other health care providers involved in the care of pregnant women and infants need to be aware of these infants’ physiologic vulnerability and potential short- term and long-term care requirements. Nurses can educate patients and raise awareness of the risks associated with early term birth.