Governments have been urged to reduce deaths related to premature births as world celebrates first ever World Prematurity Day.
World Health Organisation's statistics indicate that preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks gestation, is the leading cause of newborn deaths, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities.
Worldwide, 13 million babies are born early every year, including more than half a million in the United States. One million babies die each year across the globe as a result of their early birth.
The March of Dimes joined organizations in Africa, Europe and Australia on Wednesday to hold the first-ever World Prematurity Day, and called on governments worldwide to reduce death and disability caused by premature birth.
The March of Dimes Foundation is a U.S. non-profit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.
“Premature births are an enormous global problem that is exacting a huge toll emotionally, physically, and financially on families, medical systems and economies,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
“We are calling on every country – including the United States – to reduce their rate of premature birth to 9.6 percent or less.”
The March of Dimes, the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants, (EFCNI), representing parents in 20 European countries; Africa-based Little Big Souls International Foundation; and the National Premmie Foundation of Australia are the founding global alliance members of World Prematurity Day.
The global alliances hope to harness the power of social media to encourage governments to give top priority to educating health professionals and women about caring for high-risk pregnancies and premature babies.