SINCE THE First World Health Assembly in 1948, the international definition of prematurity based on birth weight (≤ 2500 gm) has been used widely and successfully for purposes of vital statistics concerning newborn infants. This definition is objective and subject to standardization in contrast to a classification based on estimates of gestational age which are dependent upon the mother's memory and menstrual regularity. On the other hand the taxonomic advantage of the birth weight criterion has tended to obscure the fact that fetal growth may be influenced by a number of factors; thus, size at birth is always an uncertain measure of the duration of gestation.

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