World Prematurity Day - 17 November

About World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day was founded in May 2010 in New York by The European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), Little Big Souls International Charitable Foundation for Africa and March of Dimes, USA. It was officially launched and celebrated as World Prematurity Day in 2011, with the addition of National Premmie Foundation Australia, and has since grown exponentially as a global day around the world marked in more than 50 countries. The Neonatal Trust in New Zealand is one of a growing number of support organisations worldwide now aligned and supporting World Prematurity Day.

See Celine Dion's support message from 2013 here.

Worldwide, one baby in ten is born premature: every year, about 15 million (data from 2012) children are born too early.

World Prematurity Day on 17 November aims to raise awareness of prematurity and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide because infants born preterm represent the largest child patient group. This year The Neonatal Trust will be organising a number of activities based around World Prematurity Day, including:

  • Thanking our NICU nurses

As part of our World Prematurity Day celebrations, we're co-ordinating volunteers to help us provide morning or afternoon teas for all of the neonatal units throughout New Zealand. We'll be providing purple (the colour of World Prematurity Day) balloons, streamers, tablecloths, etc. As context, here's a gallery of images from World Prematurity Day 2018. 

  • Baking for Babies

'Baking for Babies' provides the chance to help The Neonatal Trust raise awareness and funds during Neonatal November.  In 2018 we launched a new initiative to generate more support for neonatal families. Baking for Babies aims to provide a fun and simple way for people to support families going through a neonatal journey.  To register your interest, please head to: www.neonataltrust.org.nz/calling-all-bakers

  • Sharing personal stories - Giving hope & encouragement and raising awareness

Neonatal journeys can be full of stress and anxiety. Due to this, providing hope and encouragement to parents on a neonatal journey is key. We receive a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read the stories we help to share.  If you'd like to share your story, please contact us info@neonataltrust.org.nz

 

What is a premature birth? 
A premature birth is when a baby is born before the end of the 37th week of pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Premature babies generally weigh less than 2,500 grams. The lowest-weight premature baby to survive was born in 2006 in the 22nd week of the pregnancy. At that point, the baby weighed 280 grams and was 24 cm long. 
 

Causes 
A problem in researching the causes is inadequate statistical and other data.   The 2010 worldwide data available reveals that the most frequent causes of premature births are:

  • vaginal infections are responsible for about 50 per cent of premature births. They progress up the vagina and trigger contractions which cannot be stopped;
  • smoking, diet and stress can likewise be causes;
  • elderly prima gravida (mother carrying her first child is older than 35 years);
  • multiple births, also as a result of fertility treatments.
     

An early birth can mean a lifetime of disabilities

While other parents are counting happy milestones — baby's first smile, first tooth, first steps — the parents of premature babies are counting heartbeats. Premature babies aren't just small, they often face ongoing health challenges. More newborns die from premature birth than from any other cause.

The probability of permanent damage is high. The most common late-onset consequences are:

  • developmental delays;
  • chronic diseases of the respiratory tract;
  • motor disorders;
  • attention disorders.

Funding is needed here in New Zealand to improve the support provided to neonatal families, the people who care for them and to fund much needed research to identify the causes of premature birth, and develop treatments and preventions. Raising awareness of premature birth is the first step to defeating it.  Please help us spread the word and we are always very grateful for any support.

Thank you to The Neonatal Trust's Partners