An estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year. That is more than 1 in 10 babies. Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many surviving babies face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.
Ahead of World Prematurity Day 2022, the World Health Organization released new guidelines to improve survival and health outcomes for babies born early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or small (under 2.5kg at birth). There are 25 recommendations which substantially expand the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ for improving the survival, health and well-being of preterm and low birth weight babies. The guidelines advise that skin to skin contact with a caregiver – known as kangaroo mother care – should start immediately after birth, without any initial period in an incubator. This marks a significant change from earlier guidance and common clinical practice, reflecting the immense health benefits of ensuring caregivers and their preterm babies can stay close, without being separated, after birth.
Read more about the new guidelines
Photo credits: WHO