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Photo: Michael Harder

On November 17th, Aarhus University Hospital celebrated the premature infants and showed support to their families by illuminating the helipad with purple light.

It can be a dramatic experience to have a premature infant. On Sunday the 17 November, World Prematurity Day was celebrated by illuminating larger buildings all over the world with purple light to honour all premature infants.

- We have made it a tradition together with hospitals and organisations all over the world to mark the World Prematurity Day in this way, and to show our support to parents and families with premature infants, which cause a lot of concern and worries, says Jesper Padkær Petersen, MD and Consultant at Aarhus University Hospital.

Previously, prematurity was associated with a considerable risk of death and severe disabilities, but during the last 20 years, treatments have improved considerably. However, the birth and often prolonged hospital admission are associated with stress, worries and grief, which may impact on these families for years.

Today, most premature infants survive and although infants previously had an increased risk of e.g. delopmental disturbances and learning disabilites, most children today manage at the same level as other children.



  • A little above 6% of all infants born in Denmark are born prematurely (before 37 full gestational weeks). This is equivalent to approx. 4,000 infants/year or 1-2 pupils in each class 
  • Most (3,200) are born slightly or moderately prematurely (32-36 gestational week), around 600 are born very prematurely (before week 32) of whom approx. 200 children are born extremely prematurely each year (before gestational week 28)
  • Most premature infants survive, but mortality and risk of serious disability is high in those born extremely prematurely
  • Children born prematurely have an increased risk of developmental problems, but the majority is healthy. Even among children with problems, it is most common to attend normal schooling and lead an independent adult life.


Further information:

Jesper Padkær Petersen, Consultant, Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Aarhus University Hospital. Tel.: +45 3071 5171, e-mail jesppete@rm.dk.