November is the month to raise awareness on Prematurity. November 17 is the global day of action on Prematurity as it affects us as individuals and as a collective entity. Because Prematurity is a major factor affecting newborn and child mortality, it has become a critical point in assessing healthcare level and advancement and invariably the Human Development Index of any country.
Annually, an estimated 15 million babies are born Preterm globally. According to the World Health Organisation, 773,600 babies are born preterm in Nigeria every year. Some experts of Nigeria extraction say the number is slightly over 800,000 babies born preterm in Nigeria yearly. This puts Nigeria as the country with the third highest number in the world behind India and China.
A preterm baby is one born before 37 weeks. Preterm birth be classified based on gestational age as extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (between 28 and 32 weeks), moderate (between 32 and 34 weeks), and late preterm (34 to less than 37 weeks).
There are many risk factors that could predispose a woman to having a preterm labour and delivery. Some of these are medical, others are biological. Environmental and lifestyle are factors that could pose as risk factors for prematurity.
Women who have delivered preterm before, or who have experienced preterm labor before, are considered to be at high risk for preterm labor and birth.
Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or more (called “multiple gestations”)
Women with certain abnormalities of the reproductive organs are at greater risk for preterm labor and birth than are women who do not have these abnormalities. For example, women with short cervix are more prone to prematurity than women whose crevices are longer.
The following are some medical conditions that place a woman at risk for preterm labor and delivery. Some of them occur in some women only pregnancy and are commonly referred to as “pregnancy induced”. These are:
Urinary tract infections
Sexually transmitted infections
Certain vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis
High blood pressure
Bleeding from the vagina
Certain developmental abnormalities in the fetus
Pregnancy resulting from in vitro fertilization
Being underweight or obese before pregnancy
Short time period between pregnancies (less than 6 months between a birth and the beginning of the next pregnancy)
Placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the uterus and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix
Being at risk for rupture of the uterus (when the wall of the uterus rips open). Rupture of the uterus is more likely if you have had a prior cesarean delivery or have had a uterine fibroid removed.
Diabetes (high blood sugar) and gestational diabetes (which occurs only during pregnancy)
Blood clotting problems
Other factors that may increase risk for preterm labor and premature birth include:
Age of the mother: Women younger than age 18 are more likely to have a preterm delivery.Women older than age 35 are also at risk of having preterm infants because they are more likely to have other conditions (such as high blood pressure and diabetes) that can cause complications requiring preterm delivery.
Certain lifestyle and environmental factors, including:
Late or no health care during pregnancy
Using illegal drugs
Domestic violence, including physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
Lack of social support
Long working hours with long periods of standing
Exposure to certain environmental pollutants.
Prematurity places a lot of burden on families, health care system and society. Studies have proven that it costs 10 times more to care for a preterm baby than it is to care for a term baby. This means that socioeconomic factors are major determinants of the survival rate of a baby born preterm. These factors also determine the quality of life a preterm baby might live especially when the baby has to live with a certain or several complications of prematurity.
As an organization that works to support preterm babies and their families whilst working to increase awareness aimed at reducing Prematurity, Tiny Beating Hearts Initiative will be joining the global commemoration on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Details of our planned activities will be made available in due course.
For partnership or support, please call
0811 662 0205. You can send your donations to: Tiny Beating Hearts Initiative
First Bank of Nigeria