Q: When is a baby officially considered premature?
A: Although pregnancy is generally 40 weeks long, babies born at 37 weeks are considered full-term (at that point, they're developed enough that they shouldn't have any age-related health issues). Any child born 36 weeks or earlier is considered a preemie, but these days neonatal care is so outstanding that even babies born as early as 32 weeks recover very well with minimal developmental issues. Babies born before 32 weeks may still do well over time, but are more vulnerable to serious complications like underdeveloped lungs, a weak immune system, and learning disabilities. Premature birth cannot always be prevented, but the best way to protect your baby is to take excellent care of yourself throughout pregnancy by sticking to your regular prenatal appointment schedule, following your doctor's instructions if you're put on bed rest, and not smoking, drinking alcohol, or using drugs.