Born so small, they can fit into the palm of your hands. These very early premature babies face a battle to survive. Some don’t make it and others can face lifelong health problems.

The UK has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in Europe but research to help prevent it is vastly underfunded.

World Prematurity Day falls on 17 November to raise awareness about preterm birth, the biggest killer of babies and children under 5. Unfortunately, progress to better understand the causes of preterm birth and how to target treatments has been too slow, meaning that it is something that is very difficult to predict and prevent, especially in first-time mothers.



  • 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK, that’s 165 per day
  • Globally, a million children under 5 die each year as a result of being born too early and preterm birth is the biggest cause of newborn deaths
  • In babies born early, the chance of survival at less than 23 weeks is close to zero. At 23 weeks is it 10%, at 24 weeks 30% and at 25 weeks about 60% – so every day in the womb counts
  • Babies born before 28 weeks are extremely premature and may suffer from cerebral palsy, sight disabilities and breathing problems
  • We have one of the highest rates in Europe. Research is needed to find the causes and the right treatment in each case.

 Joanne Johnson’s Story

Joanne has given birth to three premature babies. Olivia, (pictured) was born at 28 weeks and survived after a long battle in intensive care. Mark was born at 22 weeks and tragically didn’t survive, and her third child, Elliot was literally sewn into her so she could reach 35 weeks.

Joanne says, “I am asking for your help, please donate to our Born Too Early Christmas Appeal. I don’t want anyone else to go through what my husband and I went through. It tore my heart out to lose Mark. Every day thousands of families’ lives are being destroyed as the child they desperately want arrives too early.”


We want every child to have the best chance at life. Wellbeing of Women is investing in ground-breaking research to help save babies lives by ensuring fewer babies are born before their due date. Please donate whatever you can towards our Born Too Early Christmas Appeal. With your help, Wellbeing of Women can continue to fund vital research into preterm birth, so that fewer families and their babies have to face the risk of severe health complications from being born too early.

Wellbeing of Women is proud to have the support of My Baba for our Born Too Early Christmas Appeal. Please donate to our preterm birth appeal HERE – anything you can give will be hugely appreciated and will help support vital research into preterm birth.


Wellbeing of Women
Tel: 020 3697 7000
Address: First Floor, Fairgate House, 78 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1HB




About The Author

Women's medical research

Wellbeing of Women touches the lives of millions of women and their families by investing in pioneering research into women's reproductive health. We fund people and projects to improve treatments, advance knowledge and better support women at each stage of life so they no longer have to suffer the distress, pain and heartache caused by women's reproductive health issues. Many of the tests, treatments and preventions that we all take for granted today are the results of research that Wellbeing of Women has funded over the last 50 years including: increasing survival rates in premature babies, the introduction of fetal scanning in pregnancy and the importance of folic acid, both when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Wellbeing of women also funded research which identified the link between cervical cancer and the human papilloma virus, so that today's teenage girls are routinely offered immunisation to help protect them from the virus and the use of Botox for some treatments of incontinence. Twitter: @WellbeingofWmen Facebook: Instagram: wellbeingofwomen Website:

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