On November 17, 2023, the world came together to commemorate World Prematurity Day. This year’s theme, “Small Actions, BIG IMPACT: Immediate Skin-to-Skin Care for Every Baby, Everywhere,” highlighted the importance of providing immediate skin-to-skin care to newborns. The Department of Maternal and Child Health of the Ministry of Health and UNICEF Viet Nam, in collaboration with Kimberly-Clarke, organized special events across various provinces, including Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Dak Nong, and Ho Chi Minh City.
These events aimed to recognize and appreciate the tireless efforts of health workers in caring for newborns, especially those born with low birth weight or prematurely.
It also celebrates the lives of preterm infants and their resilience. Sadly, preterm birth remains a leading cause of death among children under the age of five, with approximately 15 million babies (one in ten) being born prematurely worldwide each year.
World Prematurity Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of providing essential care to women and newborns, regardless of their location. Prematurity Day also highlights the benefits of life-saving methods such as immediate skin-to-skin contact and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). KMC involves prolonged skin-to-skin contact between parent and infant, which promotes breastfeeding, reduces stress levels, and strengthens family bonding.
This contact has numerous benefits, including improved thermal regulation, infection prevention, increased breast milk production, and positive physiological, behavioral, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects. It also reduces the risk of neonatal mortality by 40%.
world prematurity day 2023 theme
The theme for World Prematurity Day 2023 is “Small actions, BIG IMPACT: Immediate skin-to-skin care for every baby everywhere.” This global initiative emphasizes the importance of skin-to-skin contact for all babies, particularly those born prematurely. By initiating this contact immediately after birth, babies can experience the comforting touch and love they need to begin breastfeeding and thrive.
what is the most common cause of premature birth
Preterm birth can happen due to various factors. While most preterm births occur spontaneously, some are a result of medical conditions like infections or complications during pregnancy that necessitate early induction of labor or a caesarean birth.
Further research is required to understand the causes and mechanisms behind preterm birth. These causes can include multiple pregnancies, infections, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. However, in many cases, the cause remains unidentified. There may also be a genetic component involved.
Although the majority of preterm births take place in southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, preterm birth is a global issue. The survival rates of premature babies vary significantly depending on their place of birth. For instance, in low-income countries, over 90% of extremely preterm babies (born before 28 weeks) do not survive beyond the first few days of life. In contrast, less than 10% of extremely preterm babies die in high-income settings.
what is considered preterm birth?
Babies who are delivered before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy are classified as preterm. Preterm birth can be further classified based on the gestational age:
- extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
- very preterm (28 to less than 32 weeks)
- moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks)
Unfortunately, premature birth can happen for various reasons, whether it be spontaneous preterm labor or medical interventions. Shockingly, in 2020 alone, an estimated 13.4 million babies were born prematurely, which means that more than 1 in 10 babies face this challenge. Sadly, premature babies often encounter lifelong complications and disabilities, including learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, and even death. Preterm birth is the leading cause of death among children under the age of 5 worldwide.
The survival rates for premature babies differ greatly depending on the country they are born in, with low-income countries experiencing lower rates due to limited access to basic care and resources. Even in middle-income countries, the inadequate use of technology contributes to a higher burden of disability among preterm babies who survive the initial neonatal period.
what resources are needed to prepare for a preterm birth?
NICHD’s National Child and Maternal Health Education Program (NCMHEP)
The NCMHEP serves as a platform for examining, interpreting, and sharing recent studies in the realm of maternal and child health with a coalition comprising leading healthcare provider associations, federal agencies, non-profit organizations dedicated to maternal and child health, and other partners. As part of the NCMHEP’s efforts to decrease elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, they have produced a video titled “Is It Worth It?” in various durations – a full-length version lasting 4 minutes and 11 seconds, as well as 60-second and 30-second versions. Additionally, they have compiled valuable information for expectant mothers.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers a wealth of resources and information on various obstetric and gynecological concerns, such as preterm birth.
The National Center for Health Statistics, which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the primary agency for health statistics in the United States. Check out their report from 2009 on premature birth, titled Born a Bit Too Early.
Learn more about preterm birth by reading the comprehensive article provided by the March of Dimes Foundation, as they strive to prevent this issue as part of their mission.
ovia health solution significantly improves preterm birth rates
Pregnancy and childbirth often bring about a range of life-threatening conditions and hefty hospital expenses. However, Ovia Health, a platform dedicated to family health benefits, firmly believes that with the right care, these alarming trends can be reversed.
According to March of Dimes, a non-profit organization focused on enhancing the well-being of mothers and babies, approximately 10% of the U.S. population experienced preterm births in 2020. Preterm birth, occurring before 37 weeks of pregnancy, can increase the chances of death or disability for the child, as they haven’t fully developed during those final weeks of gestation. Additionally, mothers are at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.
preterm birth survival rates by week
In 2021, there were approximately 53,000 babies born prematurely across the UK.
Within England and Wales, 7.6% of births were preterm, which is a slight increase from the previous year’s 7.4%. This marks the end of three consecutive years where the percentage of preterm live births had been decreasing.
Interestingly, the percentage of preterm live births in England and Wales varies significantly based on the baby’s ethnicity. Babies in the Black ethnic group had the highest proportion of preterm births at 8.7% in 2021.
These statistics shed light on the prevalence of preterm births in England and Wales in 2021.
what is spontaneous preterm birth?
Preterm birth refers to the delivery that occurs before completing 37 weeks of pregnancy, as defined by the World Health Organization. Spontaneous preterm birth (SPB) encompasses various conditions such as preterm labor, preterm spontaneous rupture of membranes, preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), and cervical weakness.
The exact causes of SPB are not fully understood, but they may involve factors like decidual hemorrhage (abruption), mechanical factors (such as uterine overdistention or cervical incompetence), and hormonal changes (potentially influenced by fetal or maternal stress). Additionally, certain cervicovaginal infections have been linked to preterm labor. SPB is also the primary cause of long-term morbidity, including neurodevelopmental disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, blindness, deafness, and non-neurological disorders like bronchopulmonary dysplasia and retinopathy of prematurity.
Delaying delivery can potentially reduce the incidence of long-term morbidity by allowing the organs and systems of the developing fetus to mature. Administering antepartum glucocorticosteroids can be beneficial in reducing the occurrence and severity of respiratory distress syndrome, and this advantage can be maximized through delayed delivery. Furthermore, delaying delivery provides the opportunity to transfer the fetus in utero to a medical facility equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit.
currently, in the united states, preterm birth is characterized by:
The Centers for Disease Control reports that around 10% of babies are born prematurely, which means they arrive before the typical 37 to 40 weeks of pregnancy. Regrettably, these babies do not experience the vital growth and development that takes place in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Carrying a pregnancy to full-term is essential in protecting against some of the most significant risks to infant health.
In November, NICHQ takes pride in acknowledging Prematurity Awareness Month and spreading awareness about the importance of reducing preterm births. It is crucial to ensure that babies, mothers, and individuals from all communities have the necessary resources and support to carry their pregnancies to full-term.
It is important to note that black birthing individuals often face a disproportionate amount of grief due to premature loss, which contributes to higher rates of maternal and infant mortality. This is yet another example of how systemic racism puts black birthing families at a greater risk of experiencing negative birth outcomes.
To address this issue, the Healthy Start TA & Support Center and the GISS Center organized a 90-minute training session on understanding infant loss and African-American grief. During this training, participants gained insights into the historical and contemporary experiences of African Americans with death, including the impact of systemic racism on their reactions to loss.