by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  November 16, 2015 at 2:38 PM Health Watch
World Prematurity Day 2015
The World Prematurity Day is observed on the 17th of November every year. Established by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), March of Dimes, Africa-based Little Big Souls International Foundation, and the National Premmie Foundation of Australia, the day is being observed for the 5th year in succession, along with various other organizations throughout the world.

Premature babies, also known as premmie babies, are babies that are born before 37 weeks of gestation. This year the emphasis is on the statistics, which indicate that around one in every 10 babies is born premature.

What Causes a Premature Birth?

In several cases, the cause of a premature birth is not known, and it is therefore not possible to prevent such cases. In cases like Preeclampsia, an early delivery may be necessary to protect the life of the mother.

Some of the factors in the mother that have been found to be associated with a premature birth are as follows:
  • Previous pre-term deliveries
  • Multiple pregnancies like twins, triplets etc.
  • Problems with the cervix, the lowermost part of the uterus, which is unable to support the pregnancy
  • Urinary or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Age less than 18 years or more than 35 years
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Stress
In cases like problems of the cervix, the cause can be treated and a premature birth can be prevented. If contractions start early, it is sometimes possible to delay the delivery by administering medications to the mother. However, there are several cases where a premature birth cannot be avoided.

Premature babies are treated in a neonatal intensive care unit. Very premature babies have poor chances of survival, especially in developing countries where adequate facilities may not be available. Several babies do not survive beyond the age of 5 years. Several suffer from disabilities all their lives.

Complications that can develop in premature babies include:
  • Delays in development
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious condition that can affect the intestines
A campaign run by the EFCNI for premature babies and their families is called 'Socks for Life'. The family is emotionally affected following a premature birth. The parents may not be prepared to handle the situation, especially when they were looking forward to a healthy-full term baby. Premature babies have special needs, which should be explained to the parents.

The World Prematurity Day is celebrated to increase awareness about preterm babies and their requirements. Some basic treatments save several babies, even if sophisticated facilities are not available. Parents and doctors should be made aware of these low-cost measures that can save the life of a premature baby:
  • Mothers should receive adequate prenatal care and should be monitored especially if they have a high risk of premature birth
  • Steroid injections should be administered to the mother before delivery to make the fetal lungs mature so that the baby can breathe comfortably after birth
  • The mother should keep the baby close to her skin and feed the baby more often
  • Antibiotics are necessary to treat infections
  • The baby needs special care with feeding
EFCNI and other organizations also encourage further research in the field to improve the outcome of premature babies.

On the World Prematurity Day, let us create awareness of the condition through social media to improve the outcomes of premature births.
References : 1.



Source: Medindia

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