World Prematurity Day is observed on 17th November every year, and is one of the most important days of the year for raising awareness of the global challenges and burden of preterm birth.
The theme for 2022 World Prematurity Day is ‘A parents’ embrace: a powerful therapy’. It refers to the importance of enabling skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth.
World Prematurity Day Logo
Across the world, the typical socks line and shades of purple have become symbols of World Prematurity Day. The purple color in the visual identity stands for sensitivity and exceptionality.
In 2008, the European Foundation for the care of newborn infants (EFCNI) and partnering European parent organizations established the day, and the date 17th November was chosen at the first EFCNI Parent Organisations Meeting in Rome, Italy. That day, one of the founding members of EFCNI became the proud father of a daughter after losing his triplets due to preterm birth.
According to WHO, India is one of the topmost countries having the highest number of preterm births. Many survivors experience various levels of disability including learning disabilities, and visual and hearing problems. Having said that, many premature babies grow up to be perfectly healthy adults, with some even becoming famous public figures like Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein.
Premature babies are those who are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. According to WHO, 15 million babies are born preterm every year which is more than 1 in 10 babies born preterm. Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death for children under five.
More than three-quarters of premature babies can be saved with feasible, cost-effective care, such as antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women at risk of preterm labour and under set criteria to strengthen the babies’ lungs), kangaroo mother care (KMC) (the baby is carried by the mother with skin-to-skin contact and frequent breastfeeding), and antibiotics to treat infections.
Immediate, continuous KMC after birth provides positive, protective effects for the newborn and mother: better thermal regulation, infection prevention, improved breastfeeding, and facilitation of physiological, behavioral, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects.
This year’s theme focuses on three essential areas:
Empower women/parents to enact their role as caregivers:
- Empower parents to have the confidence and knowledge to look after their baby and take a central role in their own child’s care
- Give fathers an active role via skin-to-skin care for positive emotions, and physical bonding with their newborns
Support healthcare professionals so infants can have the best start in their life:
- Newborn health is closely linked to qualified, informed healthcare professionals at all levels in a newborn unit
- Keeping mothers and infants together simplifies infrastructure and service delivery and leads to improved outcomes for babies
Provide Kangaroo Mother care or skin-to-skin care in all settings:
- The most vulnerable newborns are in marginalized groups, rural areas, urban slums, and humanitarian settings and are the ones who can benefit most from KMC’s high-impact, low-cost implementation
- Delivering inpatient care for small and sick newborns is a challenge in low- and mid-income countries. Skin-to-Skin Care offers high-quality, effective care for mothers and infants
- KMC maintains skin-to-skin contact and protects the family bond, promoting physical, emotional and cognitive growth
Care of a premature baby
- Protect the baby from infections by hand washing before touching the mother/baby.
- Keep the baby warm by keeping the baby on the mother’s chest.
- Feed the baby with direct breast milk/expressed breast milk.
- Practice Kangaroo mother care for low-birth-weight small babies.
- Treat complications associated with prematurity.
- Watch for the warning signs – abnormal breathing, not feeding well and less activity.
Prevention of premature birth
- Good antenatal care
- Maintaining adequate weight before pregnancy
- Avoid pregnancy before 18 and after 35 years
- Stop smoking, alcohol intake, and use of illicit drugs
- Avoid long working hours and long-standing
- Manage stress
- Avoid domestic violence
- Avoid exposure to environmental pollutants
- Control diabetes and hypertension
- Treat urinary tract infections and other sexually transmitted infections
On the occasion of World Prematurity Day this year, MWT Global Academy joins hands with healthcare institutes around the world to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies worldwide. Premature birth can have a devastating impact on babies and their families, and we should do all we can to ensure that all moms, babies, and families get the best possible start in life!