According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm — before 37 completed weeks of gestation — and this number is on the rise. Complications related to preterm birth are the leading cause of death for children under five worldwide. Moreover, many children that survive preterm birth face disability for the rest of their lives including learning disabilities and sight and hearing problems.
In 2015, the number of children that died from preterm birth-related complications was approximately one million. WHO argues that three-quarters of these deaths can be prevented with cost-effective solutions, that means 750.000 lives.
WHO suggests feasible and cost-effective solutions for saving the lives of these premature babies such as provision of antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women at risk of preterm labour and to strengthen the babies’ lungs), kangaroo mother care (the baby and the mother having skin-to-skin contact and frequent breastfeeding) and antibiotics to treat newborn infections.
Continuity of care after birth is also crucial for the baby and the parents. It has been shown to reduce the risks retaled to prematurity by around 24%.
Majority of preterm births happen in Africa and South Asia but this doesn't mean preterm birth isn't a worldwide problem. According to the same report by WHO, 12 percent of babies are born too early in low-income countries and nine percent in higher income ones.
Stichting Steun Emma Kinderziekenhuis is a children’s hospital in Amsterdam. They have a renowned neonatology department that provides premature babies and their parents with care and comfort in this most difficult time along with high-quality scientific research.
They are now on a mission to improve their facilities to make the lives of parents and babies easier and the hospital’s research even more extensive to help as many people as they can.
If you’d like to help Steun Emma in this quest you can donate to the foundation below.