Back 17 November 2014

4th World Prematurity Day

This year 15 million babies will be born prematurely, with 1 million a year- or 3000 a day- dying as a result of premature birth. And for the first time in history, preterm birth has overtaken pneumonia as the leading cause of death in young children. Today marks the 4th World Prematurity Day, a global effort to raise awareness of preterm birth and its prevention, involving over 200 countries, NGOs and relevant organizations.

Of the estimated 6.3 million deaths of children under the age of five in 2013, complications from preterm births accounted for nearly 1.1 million deaths, according to new findings published in The Lancet by a research team coordinated by Robert Black, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, together with World Health Organization and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Specifically, direct complications from preterm births accounted for 965,000 deaths during the first 28 days of life, with an additional 125,000 deaths between the ages of one month and five years. Other main causes for young child deaths include pneumonia, which killed 935,000 children under-five, and childbirth complications, which caused 720,000 deaths (662,000 in the neonatal period, most on the first day of life, and 58,000 in the post-neonatal period).

Across the world, the top 5 countries with the highest numbers of babies dying from preterm birth complications each year are: India (361,600), Nigeria (98,300), Pakistan (75,000), Democratic Republic of the Congo (40,600) and China (37,200). West Africa is currently seeing some of the highest rates, which will no doubt be on the increase in those countries suffering from the Ebola outbreak. $250 million has been provided to carry out revolutionary research into the cause of preterm birth and prevention/delay and will involve more than 200 researchers.


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