- World Prematurity Day is celebrated on 17th November every year
- It generates awareness about the health complications associated with premature births
- Its major objective is to reduce the number of deaths of premature babies
World Prematurity Day is observed on 17th November every year. It raises global awareness about premature births and the devastating effects it can have on families. Prematurity Day highlights the challenges faced by premature babies and their families. Increased awareness is urgently required as the incidence of preterm births is becoming alarmingly high worldwide.
World Prematurity Day aims to increase awareness, reach and engagement between various stakeholders across the world on issues pertaining to premature birth and neonatal health. It provides an ideal opportunity to draw attention to the pain and suffering experienced by premature babies, as well as highlight the heavy burden of death and disability that accompanies preterm births. It also provides a platform to discuss, debate and interact with key global players to find remedial measures.
Objectives of World Prematurity DayThe major objectives of World Prematurity Day are briefly stated below:
- Increasing awareness about premature births and associated health problems
- Importance of regular check-ups during pregnancy to avoid premature births
- Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy
- Keeping blood glucose and blood pressure in check during pregnancy
History of World Prematurity DayWorld Prematurity Day was established by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) and its parent organizations on 17th November, 2008. Hence, this year marks the 11th anniversary of the celebrations. In 2011, it was celebrated as World Prematurity Day for the very first time. Since then, the celebrations have expanded worldwide with sponsorships from numerous organizations, societies, foundations, and companies. Currently, over 60 countries participate in the celebrations, which reach almost 1.5 billion people across the globe.
Theme for World Prematurity Day 2019The 2019 World Prematurity Day theme is "Born too soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place."The theme stresses on the importance of timely care for premature babies by parents, families, and healthcare professionals for preventing complications arising from preterm births.
Premature Births: Facts & Figures
- 15 million (1 in 10) babies are born prematurely every year worldwide
- Complications from premature births are the leading cause of under 5 mortality
- 1 million deaths occur annually due to complications from premature births
- 75 percent of these deaths could be prevented with currently available, cost-effective interventions
- Preterm babies have a 63 percent higher chance of death within the first year of life compared to those born full-term
- Survivability of premature babies over the past 4 decades has increased by one week per decade
- Lowest-weight premature baby to survive was born in 2006 in the 22nd week of pregnancy and weighed a mere 280 g and was just 24 cm in length
Prematurity: Key FeaturesPremature births are a very serious health problem. Preterm babies have more health problems than full-term babies. They can have long-term health issues, affecting the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.
Prematurity refers to a birth taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy, as opposed to 40 weeks for a normal pregnancy. The weight of premature babies is also lower, usually below 2.5 kilograms.
The major risk factors for giving birth to a premature baby include the following:
- Maternal smoking during pregnancy
- High blood pressure
- Vaginal infections
- Giving birth above 35 years of age
- Multiple pregnancies
- Chronic respiratory problems
- Feeding difficulties
- Cerebral palsy
- Motor disorders
- Attention deficit disorders
- Developmental delays
- Vision problems
- Hearing impairment
Ways to Get Involved in the World Prematurity Day CelebrationsNumerous events and activities are organized across the globe on World Prematurity Day at the local, national and international levels, some of which are indicated below:
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be used to ignite conversations pertaining to premature births. The hashtag #WorldPrematurityDay may be used to post messages
- Go 'Purple': Purple is the awareness color for World Prematurity Day. Lighting up the home, workplace or iconic landmarks in purple or wearing purple colored apparel will show support for premature babies and their families
- Hanging Up a Sock-line: Nine white socks and one smaller purple baby sock can be hung up on a clothesline as a symbol to show solidarity for premature babies
- Kangaroo Mother Care Activity: Kangaroo mother care helps to keep premature babies warm and cozy by increased skin-to-skin contact, mimicking a kangaroo's pouch. Mothers are encouraged to participate in this activity for 20 hours per day along with exclusive breastfeeding
- Personal Stories: Sharing personal experiences of the neonatal journey, which is usually very distressing for parents, could provide hope and encouragement to other parents undergoing the same stress and anxiety
The QUIPP App: Predicts Risk of Premature BirthsThe QUIPP app is a clinical tool that has been developed by researchers at Tommy's, a charity organization based in the UK. The app is capable of predicting a pregnant woman's risk of giving birth to a premature baby, thereby allowing the timely delivery of life-saving treatments. This helps doctors to decide which women require immediate medical attention and which don't. This app is currently being used around the globe and is saving the lives of countless babies.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): A Global Initiative to Reduce Infant MortalityThe SDGs were developed in 2015 with the aim of achieving a new, well-defined set of global targets by 2030. SDG 3 aims to "Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages". Within SDG 3, Target 3.2 aims to end preventable deaths of newborns and children below 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least 25 per 1000 live births by 2030.
Health Tips for Preventing Premature BirthsAlthough some risk factors cannot be altered, there are others that can be appreciably reduced through behavioral changes that encourage a healthy pregnancy. These are briefly highlighted below:
- Quit smoking prior to becoming pregnant
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs during pregnancy
- Stop medicines that may be harmful to the developing fetus
- Consume a nutritious and well-balanced diet during pregnancy
- Maintain an adequate healthy weight gain throughout pregnancy
- Avoid lifting heavy objects or standing for long periods at a stretch
- Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques
- Attend prenatal classes to get expert advice on healthy pregnancy
- Take precautions so that infections don't occur
ConclusionIt is evident from the foregoing discussion that concerted efforts are urgently needed for reducing the number of deaths arising from premature births in order to achieve the SDGs endorsed by 193 countries to end all preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030.
- World Prematurity Day 2019 - (https://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/event/world-prematurity-day-2019/)
- World Prematurity Day: 17 November - (https://www.neonataltrust.org.nz/about-us/world-prematurity-day-17th-november)
- Sustainable Development Goals - (https://www.who.int/sdg/targets/en/)
- Causes and Prevention of Premature Birth - (https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=1758&language=English)
- World Prematurity Day: 17 November - (https://www.efcni.org/activities/campaigns/wpd/)