World Prematurity Day is observed worldwide on 17th of November every year to raise awareness of preterm births that include prematurity-related fatalities, challenges, and affordable ways to prevent them.
On this day, various national and international organisations, including the World Health Organisation(WHO)/ Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the March of Dimes, hospitals, non-profit organisations and healthcare professionals, come together to conduct activities and special events to increase awareness of the difficulties and burdens of premature birth worldwide.
Importance of World Prematurity Day
Prematurity is the broad category of newborns born before 37 weeks of gestation. The most significant cause of newborn mortality and the most prevalent reason for prenatal hospitalisation is preterm delivery. The three leading causes of death for premature newborns born with birth weights less than 1000 g are respiratory failure, infection, and congenital deformity.
Preterm birth can occur for a number of reasons. The majority of preterm births occur naturally. However, some are caused by medical reasons like infections or other pregnancy issues that necessitate early induction of labour or caesarean birth.
According to a new report launched by the United Nations agencies and partners, an estimated 1.34 crore babies were delivered prematurely in 2020, with roughly 10 lakhs dying as a result of preterm complications. It equates to approximately one in every ten newborns born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) worldwide.
According to the study, only one out of every ten extremely preterm newborns (28 weeks) survive in low-income nations, compared to more than nine out of ten in high-income countries. Even in high-income countries, disparities in race, ethnicity, poverty, and access to excellent care influence the likelihood of preterm birth, mortality, and disability.
Preterm birth has become the most prevalent cause of infant death, accounting for more than one-fifth of all deaths in children under the age of five. Preterm survival may endure long-term health repercussions, including a greater risk of disability and developmental delays. World Prematurity Day intends to create awareness and to work towards preventing preterm birth.
World Prematurity Day 2023 Theme
This year, 2023, the World Prematurity Day theme is « Small actions, BIG IMPACT: Immediate skin-to-skin care for every baby everywhere ». The theme emphasises that skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo care) benefits all infants, especially premature babies. Initiated right after birth, skin-to-skin contact contributes to the baby’s awareness of touch and affection and plays a vital role in maintaining breastfeeding.