Friday, May 4, 2012

India - India Has The Most Preterm Births Worldwide, Says UN Report

Some 3.5 million babies in India are born too early every year, according to a new United Nations-backed report released this week.

Some 3.5 million babies in India are born too early, according to a new United Nations-backed report released this week, which calls for steps such as ensuring the requisite medicines and equipment and training health staff to promote child survival.

The report, entitled Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth, points out that more than 15 million babies worldwide – more than one in ten births – are born too early. Of this figure, one million of them die shortly after birth, while countless others suffer some type of lifelong physical, neurological, or educational disability, often at great cost to families and society.

It adds that three quarters of the preterm babies who die could be easily saved if a few proven and inexpensive treatments and preventions were made available to them.

“Being born too soon is an unrecognized killer,” says the co-editor of the report and Director of Global Evidence and Policy for Save the Children, Joy Lawn. “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.”

Asian countries take up six out of the ten spots for the greatest numbers of preterm births, with India (3,519,100), China (1,172,300), Nigeria (773,600), Pakistan (748,100), Indonesia (675,700), United States (517,400), Bangladesh (424,100), Philippines (348,900), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (341,400), and Brazil (279,300).

In high-income countries such as the United States, the increases in the number of preterm births are linked to the number of older women having babies, increased use of fertility drugs and resulting multiple pregnancies. Medically unnecessary inductions and Caesarean deliveries before full-term are also factors.

In many low-income countries, the main causes of preterm births include infections, malaria, HIV, and high adolescent pregnancy rates.

The report recommends addressing the issue of missing essential medicines and equipment, training existing health staff, increased funding for research to find new prevention solutions, and better data for accurate future counts.

Providing education and medical support to the mother even before pregnancy may also be useful, said the World Health Organization’s Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, Elizabeth Mason, adding that women’s education also has an impact on the pregnancy and the health of the baby.

Source: United Nations.

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