Why are some babies born premature?
A Story Of Hope And Triumph
Little Fighters Across The World
The Causes Of Preterm Births
The causes of premature births are varied but there is no one known and specific reason for them. Some reasons commonly attributed to this condition are
2. Premature rapture of the membranes, maternal or fetal
3. Induction or Cesarean section due to health risks
According to a World Health Organization report, 13 million preterm babies are born every year throughout the world. 11 million of these babies are born in Africa and Asia.
A normal pregnancy lasts between 37 and 40 weeks. Any baby born at this time is considered to be mature and ready to adapt to life outside its mother’s womb. However, babies born before 37 weeks are premature, and face many risks in order to survive on their own. Many medical advances have been made, that, help babies in this condition, survive just as well as a full term baby would, in the more developed nations. Babies born prematurely in lesser developed countries, are not as lucky though, because of lack of more effective medical systems, or interventions.
The World Health Organization, journal report, on this same issue pointed out that, babies weighing 2000g, and born at about 32 weeks of gestation, have little chances of survival in the developing world. Whereas, in the developed world, their chance of survival, are the same as of those of children born at full term. The report also highlighted that, 10% of worldwide births occur before the 37 weeks of gestation especially between the 32nd and 37th week. Although the incident of such births are significant in Asia at 3.8 % and Southern Africa at 17.5%. In higher income regions, North America has a much higher rate at 10.6% than Europe that stands at 6.2% (the comparison here is where North America stands in the developed world).
The consequences of a preterm birth are adverse depending on how early a baby is born. The earlier a baby is born the higher the risks it faces in growing to maturity. Among the most common problems premature babies face are ones associated with the functioning of the lungs. Normally the lungs remain quite undeveloped until the later weeks of pregnancy. With very premature babies, the lungs are in such a state that apnea (an inability to breath) can easily occur if the baby is not supported by the kind of equipment one only finds in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Premature babies are known to die suddenly from minor respiratory infections even months after they were considered to be out of danger. Other problems include congenital disorders that affect the brain due to a reduced oxygen supply to the brain, like cerebral palsy.
How Are Families Affected And What Can YOU Do To Help?
The emotional and physical toll on families of preterm babies, are adverse, whether their babies go on to mature and lead normal lives, or are disabled as a result, or do not make it altogether. The roller coaster ride these families face can only be understood by those who have gone through similar circumstances. A premature birth is not like a normal birth in many ways, because the baby does not come home when it is expected to, and normally, hope is sustained alongside many doubts, and sometimes; changing circumstances can lead to bright expectations one day, and dread, the next. But, we can all help to make this burden lighter in the some ways.
1. The Premature baby is a human and dear to its family like any other so be considerate. You can send well wishes for the mother, baby and family including congratulatory notes, cards and gifts. These will not only tell the family how important you think their baby is, but give hope..
2. Let the parents know that they are all in your thoughts and you are praying for them.
3. Offer to help with any children that may be at home and needing attention.
4. Help with household chores that may remain undone while the parents’ attention is focused on the newborn.
5. Send words of encouragement as often as you can.
6. If a death has occurred, treat it like any other death and be courteous.
7. If there is a possibility the child will have to live with a disability, try to find ways of helping the parents cope, by providing resources that they may need. Make sure to ask if they need any help, and be on the lookout for ways to help especially in the first few months.
8. Many premature babies that become disabled need to see the doctor quite often; find out what you can do to help in the circumstances.
Gifts For Newborn Babies
March of Dimes
Finally, be proactive, support the March of Dimes an organization whose mission is to help mothers have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.
Mother’s Basket Trust
You can also an expectant mother in Zambia (Southern Africa) prepare for the birth of their unborn baby or welcome a newborn baby by supporting a project at Lehigh Senior High School this spring that will be collecting much needed newborn items. Many would be mothers in Zambia avoid going to hospitals or getting expert medical care because of the inability to meet the list of things required as they enter the hospitals to have their babies. As a result, these mothers stay away from prenatal care or miss postnatal care altogether. You can make a difference this spring by getting in touch with the Principal Mr Spiro at this school and asking how you can help with this project to support the Mothers' Basket Trust, an NGO formed to help expectant women.
Zambia is home to the Famous Victoria Falls, Third largest Copper Producing country in the World. Enjoys a multiparty system democratic government