Blog High Number Of Preterm Births Linked To Poor Maternal Health And Malnutrition

High Number Of Preterm Births Linked To Poor Maternal Health And Malnutrition

Preterm birth, where a baby arrives before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is a major cause of childhood mortality and poses long-term health risks.Preterm births lead to life-threatening complications for newborns, making specialized care crucial. Babies born prematurely are also at greater risk of serious illnesses, disabilities, developmental delays, and even chronic diseases like diabetes and heart conditions as adults.

A new study by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has revealed a concerning trend – an estimated 13.4 million babies were born prematurely in 2020, accounting for about 1 in 10 of all live births (Source: WHO)..

Sadly, no region in the world has made significant progress in reducing preterm birth rates over the past decade. The global annual rate of reduction from 2010 to 2020 was a mere 0.14%, highlighting the urgent need for improvement.

Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, emphasized the need for better care and prevention efforts. He stated, “Preterm babies are especially vulnerable, and they need special care and attention. These numbers show an urgent need for serious investment in services to support them and their families, as well as a greater focus on prevention, particularly access to quality healthcare before and during pregnancy.”

The study, which provides global, regional, and country estimates and trends for preterm births, revealed significant disparities between regions and countries. In 2020, approximately 65% of preterm births occurred in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, where over 13% of babies were born prematurely. Certain countries like Bangladesh, Malawi, and Pakistan reported rates three to four times higher than Serbia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, which had the lowest rates.

Notably, preterm birth is not limited to low and middle-income countries. Some high-income countries like Greece and the United States reported rates exceeding 10%.

Poor maternal health, including factors like adolescent pregnancy, infections, inadequate nutrition, and pre-eclampsia, plays a crucial role in preterm births. Timely antenatal care is essential to detect and manage complications, accurately determine pregnancy dates through early ultrasound scans, and if necessary, delay labor using approved treatments.

In essence, addressing the issue of preterm births necessitates a comprehensive approach, including improving maternal health and nutrition, enhancing access to quality healthcare, and increasing awareness about the risks associated with preterm birth.

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