Population-Based Estimation of the Preterm Birth Rate in Lilongwe, Malawi: Making Every Birth Count

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The objective of this study was to perform a population-based estimation of the preterm birth (PTB) rate in regions surrounding Lilongwe, Malawi.

Study Design

We partnered with obstetrician specialists, community health workers, local midwives, and clinicians in a 50 km region surrounding Lilongwe, Malawi, to perform a population-based estimation of the PTB rate during the study period from December 1, 2012 to May 19, 2015.


Of the 14,792 births captured, 19.3% of births were preterm, including preterm early neonatal deaths. Additional PTB risk factors were similarly prevalent including domestic violence, HIV, malaria, anemia, and malnutrition.


When performing a population-based estimation of the rate of PTB, including women without antenatal care and women delivering at home, the 19.3% rate of PTB is among the highest recorded globally. This is accompanied by a high rate of risk factors and comorbid conditions.

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