Pregnancy and childbirth is a special time that is full of anticipation, preparation and for those of us who are impatient to meet our little one, frustration! Nine months is a long time, but it’s just the right amount of time for a baby to properly develop inside a mother. Unfortunately, some babies just can’t wait to be born, and arrive before their due date. Babies who arrive before their due date are called ‘premature’, or sometimes ‘premie’ or ‘preemie’ babies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 15 million babies are born preterm, or between 20-37 weeks of gestation. This means one in 10 babies around the world is born premature. In the Philippines more than 370,000 babies are born prematurely each year. The WHO also reports that prematurity is one of the leading causes of death amongst children under 5 years of age. Premature babies can often face learning, visual and hearing disabilities.
So what leads to a premature birth? The most common causes of preterm birth are diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy. Chronic conditions and some infections can also result in a baby being born before the due date. There is also a genetic influence that can cause a premature birth.
November 17 is World Prematurity Day, a globally celebrated awareness day to increase awareness of premature births as well as the deaths and disabilities caused as a result of prematurity and the simple, proven, cost-effective measures that could prevent them.
World Prematurity Day reminds us of babies born too early and the health challenges they can face as they grow up. With the Philippines being one of the top 10 countries with the highest premature births, it is important to be knowledgeable about the risks, lead a healthy lifestyle for both you and your unborn child, and to follow your doctor’s orders.
The health of any baby is paramount, but for parents of preterm babies, there are often more complex health issues that can arise. For expectant parents who are at risk of having a premature baby, or for those simply wanting an additional peace of mind about the potential health issues that could arise as a result of a premature or full-term baby, EasyDNA Philippines offers the most comprehensive non-invasive prenatal genetic screening test available. The ‘Prenatal Peace’ test is 100% safe, and screens for 18 genetic conditions, including Down syndrome, Turner’s syndrome and Trisomy 9. Starting at just 10 weeks of pregnancy and using only a maternal blood sample, this test can provide more accurate results compared to traditional screening methods.
There are a number of ways you can support World Prematurity Day. You can make a donation to Project Hope, an organisation dedicated to improving local health care services. You can also contact your local hospital to see if you can make a care package donation for a family of a premature baby. Lastly, show your support by wearing purple on November 17.
Standing in solidarity with these amazing families, you can make a difference in a premature baby’s life.