World Prematurity Day 2022: History, Significance and Theme

World Prematurity Day is annually observed on 17th November worldwide. This day raises awareness about preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families. 

Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in ten of all babies born worldwide.  Premature birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five worldwide.

This is a very serious health issue which our world is facing right now and urgent actions are required for dealing with this serious issue and to address that only we observe World Prematurity Day! 

Event World Prematurity Day
Date November 17, 2022
Day Thursday
Significance The day raises awareness about preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families.
Observed by World wide

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World Prematurity Day History: 

Did you know? Charles Darwin, father behind the Theory of Evolution and “Survival of the Fittest” was himself born premature in the year 1809. Many doctors at the time held the view that premature babies were genetically inferior “weaklings”. Without intervention, the vast majority of infants born prematurely were destined to die and survivors were certain to face a lifetime of disability. In fact, throughout the history of mankind, there are many “miracle preemies” who battled incredible odds to survive in the first place given the conditions and knowledge at the time. They then went on to mark incredible achievements in the fields of science, academia and as our world’s great leaders.

Historically efforts have been primarily aimed to improve survival and health of preterm infants (tertiary intervention). Such efforts, however, have not reduced the incidence of preterm birth. Increasingly primary interventions that are directed at all women, and secondary intervention that reduce existing risks are looked upon as measures that need to be developed and implemented to prevent the health problems of premature infants and children. As the medical science progressed it was mostly found out that self-care is only the best way to prevent it during pregnancy. Although now with advanced technology more premature kids can be saved. 

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World Prematurity Day was created on November 17, 2011 to raise awareness for the millions of children every year who are born prematurely. While technologies and medical procedures in America have increased over the years, preterm babies still carry a huge vulnerability to develop cerebral palsy, delays in development, hearing problems, and sight problems. Additionally, while neonatal death in the United States is low in comparison to most of the world, premature births account for a quarter of all neonatal deaths. That’s part of the many reasons why World Prematurity Day was created, to shine a light on the risk and hardships created by premature births, cost-effective and proven solutions, and spreading compassion for families who have experienced premature births. 

World Prematurity Day was created by European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants(EFCNI). The history of EFCNI starts with a a very personal experience: In 1997 founding member Silke Mader was pregnant, expecting twins. What was supposed to be a happy experience, turned out to be a life-changing one: At 25 weeks of pregnancy, the babies were delivered due to severe pre-eclampsia. One of them passed away after one week, the other one is now a healthy teenager. In the hospital, little information about the new situation, the wellbeing of her children, appropriate treatment and care for her and her babies as well as the lack of social support determined Silke Mader’s and her family’s’ life. Shaped by her experience she took action and joined a local parent initiative in Munich, Germany.

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World Prematurity Day Significance: 

Preterm birth, also known as premature birth, is the birth of a baby at fewer than 37 weeks gestational age, as opposed to full-term delivery at approximately 40 weeks.  Extreme preterm is less than 28 weeks, very early preterm birth is between 28 and 32 weeks, early preterm birth occurs between 32 and 36 weeks, late preterm birth is between 34 and 36 weeks’ gestation. These babies are also known as premature babies or colloquially preemies. Induction or caesarean birth should not be planned before 39 completed weeks unless medically indicated. The cause of spontaneous preterm birth is often not known. Preterm birth may be prevented in those at risk if the hormone progesterone is taken during pregnancy. 

Preterm birth occurs for a variety of reasons. Most preterm births happen spontaneously, but some are due to early induction of labour or caesarean birth, whether for medical or non-medical reasons. Common causes of preterm birth include multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure; however, often no cause is identified. There could also be a genetic influence. Better understanding of the causes and mechanisms will advance the development of solutions to prevent preterm birth.

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An estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year. That is more than 1 in 10 babies. Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth (1). Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems. Globally, prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 years. And in almost all countries with reliable data, preterm birth rates are increasing. Inequalities in survival rates around the world are stark. In low-income settings, half of the babies born at or below 32 weeks (2 months early) die due to a lack of feasible, cost-effective care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support, and basic care for infections and breathing difficulties. 

More than three quarters of premature babies can be saved with feasible, cost-effective care, such as essential care during child birth and in the postnatal period for every mother and baby, provision of antenatal steroid injections (given to pregnant women at risk of preterm labour and under set criteria to strengthen the babies lungs), kangaroo mother care (the baby is carried by the mother with skin-to-skin contact and frequent breastfeeding) and antibiotics to treat newborn infections. For example, continuity of midwifery-led care in settings where there are effective midwifery services has been shown to reduce the risk of prematurity by around 24%. Preventing deaths and complications from preterm birth starts with a healthy pregnancy. Quality care before, between and during pregnancies will ensure all women have a positive pregnancy experience. 

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World Prematurity Day Theme: 

The theme of World Prematurity Day decided by the EFCNI for the year 2022 is “A parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy. Enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth”.  

This theme specifies and promotes the Kangaroo care also called skin-to-skin contact (SSC), which is a technique of newborn care where babies are kept chest-to-chest and skin-to-skin with a parent, typically their mother (occasionally their father). 

Kangaroo care “is an effective and safe alternative to conventional neonatal care for LBW infants, mainly in resource-limited countries.” Kangaroo Mother Care reduces mortality, and also morbidity in resource limited settings, though further studies are needed. 

Most Searched FAQs on World Prematurity Day: 

1. When is World Prematurity Day observed? 

World Prematurity Day is annually observed on 17th November. 

2. What is a premature baby symbol? 

Besides the colour purple which stands for sensitivity and exceptionality, the socksline has become a symbol for World Prematurity Day. The small pair of purple socks – framed by nine full-size baby socks – symbolises: 1 in 10 babies is born preterm. 

3. What is the theme of World Prematurity Day 2022? 

The theme of World Prematurity Day 2022 is “A parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy. Enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth”. 

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