People around the world will be experiencing and explaining what to know about World Prematurity Day today, on November 17th, when purple will adorn buildings, banners, and flyers. It’s a campaign led by March of Dimes, an international organization whose purpose is to spread awareness about the unfortunately common occurrence.
1 in 10 babies are born prematurely
Prematurely born babies face multiple issues throughout their lives, be it long-term damaging effects or even death upon delivery. It’s a tragic event that has been in decline since 2006, but the numbers remain high. According to the World Health Organization, around 15 million babies are still born prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation).
That means that 1 in 10 newborn children are delivered before term. And, among them, 1 million perish due to unfortunate complications. It’s still a prevalent problem, and now officially deemed as the number one cause of death of newborn children. The occurrences are unfortunately common, especially in African nations and countries in South Asia, where 60% of the cases happen.
It may lead to the death of the newborn children, or see to long-term effects, such as cerebral palsy, delayed development, loss of vision or impaired mental capacities. Around half of the causes are still unknown, with some of the most common being infection, high or low maternal age, low socioeconomic status, smoking, and predisposition due to a prior preterm birth.
Bringing awareness to the public
March of Dimes has made it their mission to ensure that every baby is delivered at full term, bringing awareness, advice, and guides for mothers worldwide to secure the health of their children. Buildings in the United States, Turkey, and Germany will be colored purple in honor of the campaign.
Multiple organizations have gathered their efforts in hope to lower the numbers of prematurely born babies, and see to more of them delivered at a healthy full term (39-40 weeks of gestation). Many experts believe that around 75% of these babies could be saved through careful prenatal and postnatal care. Most of them wouldn’t cost a dime.
Roadmap to avoiding preterm birth
Part of the campaign is to release a ‘roadmap’, a set of instructions, that may aid mothers into securing their baby’s well being. They include attending group parental care, and getting help to stop smoking before or during the pregnancy. Otherwise, this could lower the child’s weight at birth and make them vulnerable to health issues.
Furthermore, they discourage elective births before 39 weeks of gestation when it’s not strictly necessary. Mothers should also follow fertility treatments, take low-dose aspirins to avoid preeclampsia, and receive progesterone treatments if they’ve had a prior preterm birth. According to Dr. Edward McCabe, women planning on a second child should also wait 18 months after the first birth, in order to make sure their bodies will recover.
The March of Dimes hopes that by helping women around the world, and creating awareness, they could spare around 1.3 million babies from being prematurely born.
Image source: marchforbabies.org