November 17 is World Prematurity Day. It is observed in order to raise global awareness of prematurity, which is now considered a global health crisis. On this day, organizations such as the March of Dimes as well as consumer and parent groups provide awareness, support, and education for matters related to babies who are born prematurely and their parents. Read on to learn more about this day and its impact on healthcare, maternal-fetal medicine (MFM), and the well-being of infants across the world.
What is Prematurity?
Prematurity is a term used to describe a birth that occurs at any time before the expected gestation period of 37 weeks. It is also known as preterm birth. Premature births can occur for seemingly no reason at all, and they do in many cases. However, prematurity can also be caused by a number of other factors related to a pregnant mother’s life, health, and personal habits, including certain medical conditions such as stress or high blood pressure, carrying more than one baby at a time, an absence of prenatal care, low socioeconomic status or income, smoking during pregnancy, and many others. Babies born prematurely can face serious complications that may affect many crucial body parts and functions for the rest of their lives, including their vision, hearing, lungs, and brains. Many babies born preterm in low-income environments do not survive.
Why is World Prematurity Day Celebrated?
In 2016, the number of preterm births in the United States rose to almost ten percent, or 15 million infants. A disproportionate amount of these births occurred in minority families and low-income areas, with the March of Dimes reporting that some areas of the country are “on par with those found in undeveloped countries in Africa and the Middle East.” World Prematurity Day was created in response to what is becoming an alarming health crisis. As mentioned above, this day serves to raises awareness of and provides support related to the issues surrounding preterm birth, and events surrounding the cause occur nationally and globally.
Specialized medical care such as that provided by MFM specialists can help improve the outcomes of premature births. Valley Perinatal Services utilizes treatments such as steroid injections and antibiotics to improve outcomes for premature infants.. With the incorporation of this kind of perinatal care, over 75 percent of premature infants can survive. World Prematurity Day helps to educate the general public and highlights perinatal programs that are accessible to a wider range of individuals.
How Can You Get Involved?
Programs that help to raise awareness of preterm birth occur on World Prematurity Day across most communities in the United States and worldwide. If you are having trouble finding an event in your community, turn to local social media groups to find programs in your area. Additionally, you can utilize social media to help support the cause on November 17. World Prematurity Day-themed photos have been created for use as social media profile pictures, and there are hashtags that can help you raise awareness on your profiles. An easy way to get involved is to wear the color purple on the 17, as this color represents preterm birth awareness and the March of Dimes. You can even light your house in purple for the day. It is easy to get involved on this important day that highlights the needs of preterm babies and the importance of MFM.
If you are facing a high-risk pregnancy, such as one that could lead to prematurity, you and your obstetric healthcare provider may be able to co-manage your care with help from the dedicated MFM specialists at Arizona’s Valley Perinatal Services. You or your physician may call us at 480-756-6000 or fill out our online contact form for more information.