Preterm birth has been identified as the number one perinatal and neonatal problem in the United States today. During the past decade, clinical and technologic advances in the treatment of preterm and other medically complex infants have resulted in more "survivors." But what are the costs of these advances? Many survivors face serious lasting medical complications. The focus of this series is an overview of the common pathophysiologic, psychologic and long-term care needs of the preterm infant. This article provides a discussion on the relationship between the birth of a preterm infant and the stress it evokes on the family and society.