• What is a “preemie”?

    Preemie is a nickname for a premature, or preterm, infant. A birth is considered “preterm” when a child is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been completed.

  • What is a NICU?

    NICU is an acronym for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a special unit in a hospital that provides around-the-clock care to sick or premature babies. In the US, there are four distinct levels of neonatal care:

    • Level I: Well Newborn Nursery - Can provide neonatal resuscitation at every delivery.
    • Level II: Special Care Nursery - Care for infants born as early as 32-week gestation and weighing a minimum 1500 g or more.
    • Level III: Neonatal Intensive-care Unit (NICU) - Can provide sustained life support and comprehensive care for infants born at all gestational ages and birth weights.
    • Level IV: Regional neonatal intensive-care unit (Regional NICU) - Highest level of care and required to have pediatric surgical sub specialists on site. A level IV NICU must also provide transport services.

Preemie Questions

  • How much does a preemie weigh?

    It is important to note that while “preemie” is the name given to any child born before 37 weeks gestation, there are subcategories within this general term. These include:

    • Low birth weight - babies who are born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams). In contrast, the average newborn weighs about 8 pounds. Over 8 percent of all newborn babies in the United States have low birth weight.
    • Moderately Premature - Babies born from the start of 32 to the end of 33 weeks gestation.
    • Micropreemie - An infant who is born at less than 27 weeks gestation and weighs less than 1lb 12oz (800 grams)

  • In a well-equipped hospital, how early can a baby be born and still expect to survive and thrive without any permanent disabilities?

    24 Weeks - If a mother needs to deliver before reaching full term (37 weeks) and if the hospital has the right equipment, an infant has a fighting chance to survive and have a life without permanent disabilities. Examples of proper equipment include: critical airway carts, infant resuscitators, incubators, Omnibeds and real-time monitors.

  • How many preemies are born in the US each year?

    Each year, nearly 365,000 babies are prematurely born in the United States. Almost 63 percent of twins, triplets, and other multiple deliveries result in preterm births.

  • Are all hospitals in the US equipped to care for preemies?

    Most communities across the U.S. have good hospitals, but not all have a NICU that can service fragile premature births. The economic reality is an estimated 75% of NICU infants are Medicare or Medicaid patients. The reimbursement rate for such patients is low and there is no allocation for NICU equipment from state or federal agencies, leaving hospital foundations to raise the money for such expenditures.

  • What is the cost associated with giving birth to a preemie?

    In 2007, the Institute of Medicine reported that the cost associated with premature birth in the United States was $26.2 billion each year. The breakdown is as follows:

    • $16.9 billion in medical and health care costs for the baby
    • $1.9 billion in labor and delivery costs for mom
    • $611 million for early intervention services. These are programs for children from birth to age 3 with disabilities and developmental delays. They help children learn physical, thinking, communicating, social and self-help skills that normally develop before age 3.
    • $1.1 billion for special education services. These services are specially designed for children with disabilities ages 3 through 21. They help children with development and learning. Children can get these services at school, at home, in hospitals and in other places, as needed.
    • $5.7 billion in lost work and pay for people born prematurely

  • Where does the US rank with number of premature births annually compared to the rest of the world?

    The United States is ranked 6th of the top ten countries with highest number of premature births. There are many reasons for this terrible statistic and many organizations are trying to improve this problem by focusing on the expecting mother and prenatal health, but until they find the answer, neonatal intensive care units are responsible for saving the lives of newborns, as well as trying to assure the child does not have permanent ailments or disorders.

    1. India
    2. China
    3. Nigeria
    4. Pakistan
    5. Indonesia
    6. United States
    7. Bangladesh
    8. Philippines
    9. Democratic Republic of Congo
    10. Brazil

  • Are preemies susceptible to diseases and/or disorders?

    Important growth and development occur throughout pregnancy - especially in the final months and weeks. Because they are born too early, preemies weigh much less than full-term babies. They may have health problems because their organs did not have enough time to develop. Preemies need special medical care in a NICU where they stay until their organ systems can work on their own. Roughly 26% of all preemies will develop chronic lung disease (CLD) due to antiquated pulmonary equipment. The rate of CLD has not improved in 10 years.

Brave Beginnings

  • How much are the grants given by Brave Beginnings?

    The average grant awarded by the Brave Beginnings program is $50,000. Since its inception in 2006, the Brave Beginnings program has awarded approximately $9.5 million in grants to nearly 200 facilities across the United States

  • When is the application period for Brave Beginnings?

    The grant cycle runs from October 1st – January 31st with the recipients typically announced in March.

  • Where does the money come from that supports the Brave Beginnings program?

    The funds for the Brave Beginnings program come from donations from the general public, primarily through the Theatrical Fundraising Campaign, a tradition dating back to 1936, which takes place in movie theaters across the country. Thank you to our theater partners and to the thousands of loyal supporters that have donated to the cause. To see a list of current financial statements please visit

  • Is Brave Beginnings the same as March of Dimes?

    No, but we share the common goal of saving the lives of premature babies. March of Dimes works with mothers and families before the child is born, while Brave Beginnings works with healthcare professionals after the child is born. The mission of March of Dimes is to, “help moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.” Their goal is to work with mothers and families and provide resources to help babies reach full-term. The mission of Brave Beginnings is to provide healthcare professionals with the tools they need to perform the miracles they are being asked to do – help premature babies survive and thrive