Over one in every 10 babies born premature
More than 10% of babies around the globe are born prematurely, according to a new international report.
The report, called "Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth", was released by almost 50 organisations including Save the Children, WHO (The World Health Organization), The March of Dimes and the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS).
It revealed that over 1 million premature babies die soon after birth and several million more go on to suffer physical, neurological or educational disabilities.
The study highlights that premature birth is a worldwide problem, affecting both rich and poor countries.
Brazil and the US are in the top 10 countries with the highest number of premature births. In the US, 12% of all babies are born prematurely. That represents over one in every nine births - twice as many as most European countries and twice as many as China.
Authors of the report have dubbed premature births as "an unrecognized killer".
They explain that preterm births account for almost half of all newborn deaths worldwide and are now the second leading cause of death in children under five after pneumonia. Premature births cause six times more child deaths than AIDS.
"This report sounds the alarm that prematurity is an enormous global health problem that urgently demands more research and resources," said Craig Rubens, executive director of GAPPS and contributor to the report.
Nations with the highest number of preterm births are India (3,519,100), China (1,172,300) and Nigeria (773,600). Meanwhile, countries with the lowest amount of preterm births are Belarus, Ecuador, Latvia and Finland.
Furthermore, the numbers of preterm births are increasing.
Factors that contribute to a rising rate of preterm births in high-income nations, include:
• More older women are giving birth than before
• More women are using fertility drugs to get pregnant, which increases the number of multiple pregnancies
• More women of reproductive age have diabetes
• More women of reproductive age are obese
• There are more inductions and C-sections before full-term, many of which are medically not unnecessary
The main causes of the rise in premature births in poor countries include HIV, high teenage pregnancy rates, infections, HIV, and malaria.
In low-income countries over 90% of babies born three months early die. While in high-income countries, less than 10% of babies born three months early die.
Many premature births are unexplained in both poor and rich nations.
[Posted: Thu 03/05/2012]