When a woman gets pregnant, she expects to spend about nine months renting out her womb. But some babies don't stay quite that long -- the ones who leave after less than 37 weeks are premature. Thanks to advances in reproductive technology, preemies are on the rise. Women who have been through assisted reproduction frequently have twins or triplets, and multiples often check out of the womb before they've reached the end of their lease.
Luckily, neonatal care has improved along with reproductive technology, which means many premature infants have a good chance at a perfectly normal life. Still, it may not be easy, and the more premature the baby, the likelier it is that he or she will experience some health problems in the first few days of life. On the next few pages, we'll unravel the common acronyms and conditions you may hear around the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).