Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born pre-term (before 37 weeks) which translates to about one in 10 babies. In 2014, the complications of pre-term birth outranked all other causes as the world’s number one killer of young children¹.
Although about 60% of pre-term births occur in Africa and South Asia, premature birth is a worldwide problem. Of great concern is the dramatic difference in the survival of premature babies depending on where they are born. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 90% of extremely pre-term babies (less than 28 weeks) born in low-income countries die within the first few days of life, whereas less than 10% of extremely pre-term babies die in high-income settings². World Prematurity Day aims to help address these inequities and to prevent unnecessary deaths and health problems caused by pre-term birth.
This campaign was first started in 2011 by EFCNI (the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants) together with Little Big Souls (Africa), March of Dimes (USA) and the National Premmie Foundation of Australia. It is estimated that by 2014, awareness activities took place in 200 countries, reaching about 1.6 billion people.
Celebrating our maternity nurses
Having a premature baby can be a very stressful and emotional experience for parents, even if their baby has access to excellent medical care. All carefully laid plans and hopes for the birth and early days have gone awry and parents often feel powerless and frightened. Anxiety is increased by the overwhelmingly technical environment in which their infants are placed and where others have the primary role of caring for their baby.
This is when the skill and kindness of maternity nurses plays such an important role for both the baby and parents. Many children and young adults are leading normal and healthy lives because of the care these dedicated nurses gave them in the first days and weeks of their lives. And many parents are eternally grateful not only for the life-saving care given to their preemies - but also for the kindness and support given to mom and dad during such a stressful period.
Watch one nurse's story
1 http://www.marchofdimes.org/mission/world-prematurity-day.aspx 2 http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/maternal_perinatal/prematurityday/en/