HOW MANY PRETERM BABIES ARE BORN?
Each year, some 15 million babies in the world, more than one in 10 births, are born too early, according to the report released in 2012 “Born too soon: the global action report on preterm birth”. The Report was published by the World Health Organisation “WHO” in cooperation with “The March of Dimes Foundation”, “The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health”, and “Save the Children”.
The 10 countries with the highest numbers include Brazil (279,300), the United States (517,400), India (3,519,100) and Nigeria (773,600), demonstrating clearly that preterm birth is truly a global problem. In Germany, 9.2 babies per 100 newborns are born prematurely. In recent years, this figure has increased marginally, up from 7 in 100 newborns in 2007. In a European comparison, Germany has the highest rate of preterm babies on a par with Austria (10.9), followed by Hungary (8.6), Luxembourg (8.1) and the United Kingdom (7.8). The overall average is seven per cent with the Scandinavian countries Finland (5.5), Sweden (5.5) and Norway (6.0) boasting the lowest rates.
In the foreword of the Report, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, writes, “All newborns are vulnerable, but preterm babies are acutely so.” Co-editor Joy Lawn of “Save the Children” states: “Being born too soon is an unrecognised killer.” She points out that the number of preterm babies is on the rise, even in the industrialised world. The latter, she confirms, stems from the fact that women are having babies later on in life.
Prematurity has many causes, including ethnic and family factors. More often than not, it is due to a combination of several factors, such as poor living conditions (social status, level of education) and emotional stress, as well as the mother’s age, nicotine, alcohol and drug abuse, obesity and malnutrition, disease etc.
HOW DO WE DEFINE A “PRETERM BABY”?
A baby is said to be premature if it is born before the end of the 37th week of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy last for 40 weeks (280 days after the last period). In the case of preterm babies, the pregnancy lasts less than 260 days. These babies generally weigh less than 2,500 grammes.
WHAT KIND OF PROBLEMS DO PRETERM BABIES HAVE TO DEAL WITH?
Being born too soon often poses a major health risk for the baby. The underdeveloped organs cause a diversity of different problems. The level of lung development is a particularly crucial and decisive factor for survival. An oxygen deficiency and respiratory distress can be caused by underdeveloped lungs.
A newborn baby is unable to hold and support its own head. The muscles around the neck are extremely weak and the child has no control over its heavy head. When the head falls forward, for example, serious breathing problems can ensue.
WHAT MUST I CONSIDER WHEN TRANSPORTING MY PRETERM BABY IN AN INFANT CARRIER?
Even your very first trip with your newborn baby places several demands on you as parents. First and foremost, it is important to ensure the right position in the infant carrier. Your preterm baby should lie as flat as possible so that she can breathe strongly and without distress. It is also essential that your baby’s body is given enough support. Your baby’s head must be held gently in place and the child must not be able to slide forwards or off to the side. If this were to happen, your baby’s breathing could be hampered. Another reason why a central position must be adopted is so that your baby can be secured safely with the harness.
In one of our next blogs, we will shed light on our quest to minimize the potential health risks of transporting preterm babies in cars. We will specifically look at how our team of experts at CYBEX has implemented the latest research findings on preterm and newborn babies in its new generation of CYBEX ATON 3 infant carriers, developed in close cooperation with German pediatricians and midwives.
If you visit our Child Safety Centre, you will find many more interesting tips and recommendations on child safety when on the road:
THE CHILD SAFETY TEAM AT CYBEX