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World Prematurity Day 2020: Improving the Lives of Babies Born Too Soon

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Last Updated Feb 25, 2021

Nothing exceeds the joy of parents upon laying eyes on their newborn baby―the best gift they could ever receive from the universe has finally arrived after nine long months. However, a baby that was born too soon brings bittersweet feelings to its parents, who fear the dangers their child could face due to the complications of preterm birth.

On 17th November 2020, we observe World Prematurity Day, which raises awareness about the challenging issues surrounding preterm birth, the leading cause of death in children under the age of five.

A normal pregnancy usually lasts for 37 weeks, so a baby who is born before the completion of this gestational period would usually suffer a physical or mental condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that around 15 million babies are born earlier than expected every year, and approximately one million of them die from complications of preterm birth. Those who survive have to endure physical or mental disability, as well as visual or hearing impairment or both.

How Social Class Influences a Baby's Survival Rate

A baby that's born to poor parents is less likely to survive the complications of preterm birth than one with wealthy folks who can provide them with the essential care and support. The WHO says all premature babies have a greater chance of surviving if they are given equal access to feasible and cost-effective care before, during and after their delivery into this world.

Complications Resulting From Premature Birth

Millions of parents around the world suffer the pain of losing a child due to preterm birth complications. Premature babies are likely to suffer more health problems than full-term babies. Studies show that babies who were prematurely delivered are at risk of developing any of the following conditions:

  • Heart defects
  • Low blood pressure
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Respiratory problems
  • Anaemia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Poor immunity

Reducing Infant Mortality Due to Preterm Birth

The health and wellbeing of a child begin with a healthy pregnancy. Expectant mums should be provided with quality care and support early on to prevent preterm births. Throughout their pregnancy, they must receive regular counselling regarding their diet and nutrition as well as the risks that tobacco, alcohol and drugs pose to their health and their unborn child's. World Prematurity Day is celebrated with a host of activities and educational materials to improve the situation of mothers who are at risk of preterm birth and ensure that their babies get a good start in life.

Who Conceived World Prematurity Day? 

The World Prematurity Day is a fundraiser established in New York by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), in collaboration with its international partner organisations Little Big Souls International Charitable Foundation for Africa, March of Dimes (USA) and National Premmie Foundation Australia.

It was first celebrated in 2011 and has since become a global movement observed in more than 50 countries. This year's celebration of World Prematurity Day carries the theme, "Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future". It aims to provide support to families with premature babies and ensure that their little ones receive the highest quality of care.

Purple is the official colour of the event, so wear anything with this shade when you take part in World Prematurity Day 2020 to express your support for the lives of innocent babies.

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Originally published on Nov 11, 2020

FAQs About Pregnancy & Premature Childbirth

What is the earliest a baby can survive if born prematurely?

The chance of a baby surviving if it was born at 24 weeks gestation or less is slim as compared to one who is born on the 28th week. Some infants who were born at less than 24 weeks manage to live but end up with a slew of health problems.

What week is safe to give birth?

Giving birth on the 37th week of pregnancy is the safest. If a baby is born earlier than this, they could suffer health issues. Giving birth after your due date is just as dangerous as a preterm birth because the baby could experience the same health conditions.

Do premature babies have more health problems later in life?

Premature babies are more at risk of developing more health problems later in life than babies who reached full term. Heart and lung problems are common in premature babies, as well as learning disabilities as they get older.

Related Topics

Pregnancy,  Childbirth

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