Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content

Health Indicator Report of Preterm Births

Prematurity increases the risk for infant morbidity and mortality. Infants born preterm are at greater risk of dying in the first month of life. Preterm infants may require intensive care at birth and are at higher risk of developmental disabilities and chronic illnesses throughout life. They are more likely to require special education services. Health care costs and length of hospital stay are higher for preterm infants. The more preterm an infant is born, the more severe the health problems are likely to be.

Preterm Births among Singletons, by County of Residence, New Jersey, 2021 (EPHT)


This is an Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) indicator.

Data Source

Birth Certificate Database, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry, New Jersey Department of Health


Percent of live born infants born before 37 weeks (preterm) or before 32 weeks (very preterm) of gestation based on obstetric estimate Preterm is synonymous with premature. Infants born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are considered preterm and those born before 32 weeks of pregnancy are considered very preterm. Infants born at or after 37 weeks of pregnancy are called full term. Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks.


Number of live born infants born before 37 weeks (preterm) or before 32 weeks (very preterm) of gestation based on obstetric estimate


Number of live infants born to resident mothers

Healthy People Objective: Reduce preterm births

U.S. Target: [[br]]Preterm (<37 weeks): 11.4% [[br]]Very preterm (<32 weeks): 1.8%

How Are We Doing?

New Jersey's overall preterm birth rate decreased from its peak of 10.4% in 2006 to 9.2% in 2021. The preterm birth rate among Black mothers (13.1%) remains significantly higher than among other racial/ethnic groups (7.8%-10.0%). Preterm birth is highly correlated with plurality. While 7.6% of singletons are born preterm, more than half of twins and nearly all triplets are born prior to 37 completed weeks of gestation. Preterm rates are lowest in Ocean County (7.1% of all births, 5.8% of singletons) and highest in Cumberland County (12.0% of all births, 10.3% of singletons). New Jersey's overall very preterm birth rate decreased from its peak of 1.8% in 2006 to 1.3% in 2021 and, among singletons, the rate declined from 1.4% in 2000 to 1.1% in 2021. Very preterm birth is highly correlated with plurality. While 1.1% of singletons were born very preterm, 9.1% of twins, and 40.9% of triplets were born prior to 32 completed weeks of gestation in 2021. Among singletons, very preterm rates are lowest in Hunterdon and Ocean Counties (0.7%) and highest in Essex County (1.7%).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

New Jersey's preterm and very preterm birth rates for singletons and for all pluralities are below those of the nation as a whole.

What Is Being Done?

The [ Division of Family Health Services] in the New Jersey Department of Health administers programs to enhance the health, safety and well-being of families and communities in New Jersey. Several programs are aimed at improving birth outcomes.

Evidence-based Practices

[ CDC Preterm Birth Activities] [ CDC Grand Rounds: Public Health Strategies to Prevent Preterm Birth]

Health Program Information

The New Jersey Department of Health has been using the obstetric estimate (OE) to determine gestational age since 1989, while the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) had been calculating it using date of last menstrual period (LMP). In 2003, NCHS changed the standard for gestational period from the LMP-based gestational age to the OE-based gestational age. OE-based gestational age for U.S. data became available for years 2007 and later in February, 2016. Data in reports published prior to February, 2016 will not match data shown here. Refer to [ Measuring Gestational Age in Vital Statistics Data: Transitioning to the Obstetric Estimate] for more information. [[br]][[br]] The annual number of birth records with unknown gestational age was between 5,100 and 6,700 in 2000-2009. Unknown gestational age dropped to 1,000-2,800 records per year in 2010-2014. In recent years, improved data exchange between states has resulted in fewer than 100 NJ resident birth records with unknown gestational age each year. A large number of "unknowns" in the denominator may artificially decrease rates.
Page Content Updated On 08/15/2023, Published on 08/15/2023
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's NJSHAD web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 18 May 2024 23:02:43 from Department of Health, New Jersey State Health Assessment Data Web site: ".

Content updated: no date