World Prematurity Day, initiated in 2008 by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) and partnering European parent organisations, is aimed at improving the situation of preterm babies and their families.
Every year, in support of World Prematurity Month, landmarks around the world ‘light up’ in purple to raise awareness of the 15 million babies born prematurely each year, and to honour the one million that don’t survive, annually.
Recent Studies Indicate Rising Prematurity Rates
In recent decades, preterm birth rates seem to be rising, with one study observing this trend across 62 of 65 countries. This observation was predicted as being due to various factors, including better medical measurements, older maternal age and underlying conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Other factors reported include greater use of infertility treatments causing increased rates of multiple pregnancies and changes in obstetric practices.
Interventions Aiming to Decrease Prematurity Rates
In order to reduce rates of infant mortality, morbidity and future disability due to preterm birth, various interventions can be delivered to the mother before and during pregnancy, or to the preterm after birth.
Prevention of preterm birth is the main aim when it comes to implementing such interventions, especially in low-income settings. Family planning and better-quality pregnancy care both present increased prevention of preterm births.
Key interventions include:
- Counselling on a healthy diet & nutrition
- Counselling on tobacco & substance use
- Fetal measurements & ultrasounds to help determine gestational age or predict multiple pregnancies
- Minimum of 8 contacts with HCPs during pregnancy
- Continuity of midwifery-led care
The 2020 World Prematurity Month takes place during a time of unparalleled challenges for socio-economic and health systems due to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This makes for prematurity awareness and celebrations this year that much more important.