To coincide with World Prematurity Day tomorrow (17th November), child health experts from a number of organisations, including Save the Children and the World Health Organisation, have asked for five major interventions to cut the rising number of premature babies born worldwide.
According to the BBC, 15 million babies every year are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, 60,000 of these in the UK, with an estimated 1.1million premature babies dying each year, around 1,200 of those in the UK.
The proposed interventions are:
- Stopping smoking
- Promoting single pregnancies in IVF treatment
- Reducing planned early Caesarean sections
- Providing progesterone supplements to women with high-risk pregnancies
- Providing cervical stitching for women suffering a weak cervix
Although the risk for premature babies is higher in developing countries, many dying from lack of care, experts say the proposed interventions could prevent premature births in the 39 most developed countries and prevent 58,000 premature births.
They have also called for more research to find out why numbers are rising and what can be done.
In the meantime, medical experts are welcoming a revolutionary new test developed at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London in conjunction with baby charity Tommy’s that can warn expectant mothers they are about to give birth.
The early-warning system, which measures a pregnancy protein, is quicker and more accurate than current tests and should help reduce the number of women having unnecessary treatment.