In humans, birth normally occurs at a gestational age of 37 to 42 weeks. Childbirth occurring before 37 weeks of gestation is considered preterm, childbirth after 24 weeks is usually considered "viable". Preterm and low birth weight babies make up the second leading cause of infant death at about 17%. Preterm births solely consist of 12% of infant deaths with an 84% majority within the 32-36 week period. It is estimated that two million babies worldwide die annually within 24 hours of birth.
Below are average and approximate values ordered by gestation period (note for humans gestational age is counted from the LMP, for other animals the counting method varies, so these figures could be 14 days off):
|Animal||Average gestation period (days)|
Ovoviviparous animals develop within eggs that remain within the mother's body up until they hatch or are about to hatch. This strategy of birth is known as ovoviviparity. It is similar to vivipary in that the embryo develops within the mother's body. Unlike the embryos of viviparous species, ovoviviparous embryos are nourished by the egg yolk rather than by the mother's body. However, the mother's body does provide gas exchange. Ovoviviparity is employed by many aquatic life forms such as fish and some sharks, reptiles, and invertebrates. The young of ovoviviparous amphibians are sometimes born as larvae, and undergo metamorphosis outside the body of the mother.
The Syngnathidae family of fish has the unique characteristic where females lay their eggs in a brood pouch on the male's chest, and the male incubates the eggs. Fertilization may take place in the pouch or before implantation in the water. Included in Syngnathidae are seahorses, the pipefish, and the weedy and leafy sea dragons. Syngnathidae is the only family in the animal kingdom to which the term "male pregnancy" has been applied.
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