World Prematurity Day

4,300 preterm babies die before turning five every year



By Mahima Devkota, Kathmandu, Nov.17: It has been found that more than 4,000 preterm babies die before turning five every year in Nepal. 

In a press brief, organised by the Epidemiology and Diseases Control Division (EDCD), on the occasion of World Premature Day on Thursday,  the data presented by the EDCD showed more than 4,000 preterm babies die before turning five every year. 

The birth of a newborn before the completion of 37 weeks of pregnancy is called preterm or premature birth.

In an informative video made by Dr Ganesh Kumar Rai, Chairperson of the Nepal Pediatric Society of Nepal, at request by EDCD, said that 4,300 premature babies die before turning five annually in Nepal, a total of 810,000 preterm babies born. 

Dr Rai said that there is a lot of complication in preterm children. The organs of the body of newborns that are born prematurely are not fully developed and are underweight. In addition to various health problems, such newborns are more likely to be disabled throughout their lives, have hearing loss, vision problems,s and slow mental development and some even face mortalities.

He said, "Skin-to-skin contact, that is, Kangaroo care, is the best care that should be given to premature babies. Early care helps in the proper development of preterm babies, along with reducing the massive mortality rate. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), mortality of preterm babies can be reduced by 70 per cent with proper care."

Dr Megha Mishra Bajracharya, a Pediatrician at the Paropakar Maternity and Women's Hospital said that one in every ten children born worldwide is a preterm baby. 

She said that various pieces of evidence have shown that the survival rate of preterm infants in low-income countries like Nepal is lower than in high-income countries, therefore, emphasis should be placed on obstetric and postnatal services through skilled and trained health workers for the management of premature babies. Likewise, exclusive breastfeeding to the newborn for six months, along with giving micronutrients should be shown for the health and well-being of preterm babies. 

The age factor of the women along with diseases like hypertension, thyroid, and sugar, in pregnant mothers, risks preterm birth. Preventing the deficiency of micronutrients such as iron and calcium, preventing the infection of the Zika virus, avoiding smoking and drinking, taking drugs, and avoiding overwork and stress helps to reduce the birth of premature babies significantly. 

Globally, about one million children die each year due to complications caused by premature birth, and it is the leading cause of death of children under five years of age. 75 per cent of such deaths can be provided with proper care and treatment, as per the World Health Organization. 

The global theme for World Prematurity Day 2022 is 'A parent's embrace: a powerful therapy. Enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth.'

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