Each year, some 15 million babies in the world, more than one in 10 births, are born too early, according to the recently released report, Born Too Soon. The report highlights for the first time the number of preterm births by country, with the highest risk being in Africa.
The report states that in children under five, prematurity is the leading cause of death worldwide, after pneumonia. It claims that the prevention of preterm births must be accelerated through strategic investments in innovation and research and that premature babies can be saved with cost-effective care. This report validates Embrace’s work, as we strive to impact the lives of premature and low-birth-weight babies in developing countries, through our innovative and low-cost infant warmer. To read the full report click here.
Preterm Births by Country (2010). WHO.
The Report in a Nutshell: A Quick Summary of Important Points Relevant to our Work
- Investment in women’s and maternal health and care at births will reduce stillbirth rates and improve outcomes for women and newborn babies, especially those who are premature.
- Premature babies can be saved now with feasible, cost-effective care. But inequalities in survival rates around the world are stark: half of the babies born at 24 weeks (four months early) survive in high-income countries, but in low-income settings half the babies born at 32 weeks (two months early) continue to die due to a lack of feasible, cost-effective care, such as warmth, breastfeeding support, and basic care for infections and breathing difficulties.
- Where? Africa and South Asia account for more than 60% of the world’s preterm babies and over 80% of the world’s 1.1 million deaths due to preterm birth complications. Around half these babies are born at home. Even for those born in a health clinic or hospital, essential newborn care is often lacking. The risk of a neonatal death due to complications of preterm birth is at least 12 times higher for an African baby than a European baby. Yet more than three quarters of premature babies could be saved with feasible, cost-effective care, and further reductions are possible through intensive neonatal care.
- Over 75% of deaths of preterm births can be prevented without intensive care.
- “There is no excuse for 80% of babies, who are less than eight weeks early, to die – it’s lack of food and warmth, not lack of intensive care.” (Dr Joy Lawn, co-editor of the report and Director for Save the Children.
- The report spotlights premature births, and make it an urgent priority to help reach the UN Millennium Development Goal 4 set in 2000 – which calls for the reduction of young child deaths by two-thirds in 2015.
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Business Development Director, Embrace