Almost 4,500 babies are born prematurely in Ireland every year and some will face major developmental challenges, the Irish Neonatal Health Alliance (INHA) has said.
Any baby born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature. The earlier a baby is born, the more risks they face and the lower their chance of survival.
For premature babies and their families, every milestone reached is a major achievement, so the INHA is highlighting its ‘Milestone Card' initiative.
Milestone Cards are specially designed cards, which chart a baby's progress. This helps to keep track of the child's development, while also giving parents something positive to focus on.
The cards are available free of charge to parents in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) nationwide, or on the INHA website here.
"The INHA's vision is to support families affected by prematurity by advocating for increased awareness, empowering families and improving long-term care for both the premature baby and family.
"The charity was established and has grown out of the experiences of such parents and their desire to provide more support to other parents taking the same journey," explained INHA health director of advocacy and policy making, Mandy Daly.
She pointed out that for the parents of premature babies, "it is often the simplest things that give the greatest joy", so the Milestone Cards help families to celebrate every precious milestone.
The cards are sponsored by WaterWipes. The INHA highlighted this initiative as part of World Prematurity Day (November 17). For further information on the INHA and Milestone Cards, click here.
*Pictured (l-r): Ailbhe O'Briain of WaterWipes, Liz Costigan Fleury, mother to premature twins, Zac and Jules Costigan Fleury, and Mandy Daly of the INHA.
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