Premature birth is a dangerous health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than one million babies die as a result. Preterm babies who survive are affected with lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vison and hearing loss and intellectual disabilities. World Prematurity Day was established with the sole intention of raising awareness of this serious health crisis.
Birth that happens before 37 weeks of pregnancy is called premature birth. Babies born preterm face health problems quite often and may have to stay longer in hospitals than babies born full-term. Beyond health problems, such babies can face long-lasting financial effects as they their education and ability to work are also affected.
There is no full-fledged explanation behind the reason for such premature births and research is still ongoing. The risk is greater in the developing world due to high rates of infectious diseases, poor overall health and lack of health care resources which increases the woman’s risk of preterm labor. Lack of knowledge and updated tools to support to help a baby survive a preterm birth are also lacking in these countries.
Even in developed nations, access to care plays an important role. Other factors that can induce preterm delivery include multiple births, babies born with fertility treatments, babies born to older mothers, chronic medical conditions, earlier C-section deliveries and inducing labor pains without any reason.
The Effect of Premature Birth on a Child’s Performance at School
Premature babies have a harder time in school than other babies. They may suffer from learning and behavioral problems all through their childhood which affect their test scores and may pose the need for special education services. Some children may not face learning problems until elementary or even middle school.
Babies born at 36 to 38 weeks of pregnancy too can suffer in academics. This is because, a baby’s brain still develops in the last few weeks and the brain at 35th week weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 39 to 40 weeks. If your pregnancy is healthy and you face no issues, it is better to stay pregnant until at least the 39th week. This gives ample time for the baby’s brain and other organs to develop fully before birth.
The Effect of Premature Birth on a Person’s Ability to Work
Prematurity can affect a person’s ability to work, the quantity of work he can do or even both. Some individuals born preterm can have lifelong health conditions that prevent or limit their working capability.
Emotional Toll on the Family
Parents expectantly wait for the arrival of the baby. Instead of bringing home a healthy infant with pleasure, parents of preterm babies spend days together at the hospital seeking the opinion of different specialists. The medical equipment supporting the baby is a frightening sight and doctors use complicated words that parents don’t understand. One day their baby seems to improve and the very next day the hope is shattered.
Families of preterm babies face a roller-coaster experience of mixed emotions. Day-to-day routine is completely devastated as families may spend days or even months at the hospital which increases their financial crisis as well.
Take A Step Forward Together as A Society
Each of us can do a simple gesture to support the global movement. Women in child-bearing age should follow a healthy lifestyle of eating nutritious foods, doing physical activity and remaining stress-free. They can get in touch with nutritionists/dietitians at www.firsteatright.com to help them plan a healthy lifestyle. Medical equipment, healthcare facilities and latest technology should be made available by the government to ensure healthy full-term babies.
Social media is a great way to spread awareness. On this day, each of us can post on prematurity risks, send messages to people across the nation and host events in your community to communicate about the risks involved in prematurity. Wear purple today to show your support to end premature delivery of babies.
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