Premature Birth and Infant Mortality

In Morning Crossfire 2019-11-27 10:49:44
Premature Birth and Infant Mortality
Premature Birth and Infant Mortality

Jude Chukwuemeka



Prof. Elizabeth Aruma Disu - Professor Paediatrics, LASUTH & Founder of Abiye Maternal & Child Health International Foundation


Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan - Child Care and Disability Expert.




Wemimo starts the show by highlighting that the World Prematurity Day 2019 theme: “Born Too Soon: Providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place.” A message map with the benefits of family partnership in care for children, families, parents, health care professionals.


Newborns are perhaps the most vulnerable population of the world and Nigeria is third among the ten countries with the highest number of pre-term births with 773,600, according to latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).


Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are believed to account for over 60 percent of pre-term births worldwide. India 3,519,100; China 1,172,300. Pakistan 748,100; Indonesia 675 700; USA 517,400; Bangladesh 424,100; Philippines 348,900; DR Congo 341,400; and Brazil 279,300.


Notably, in high-income countries, almost all of these babies survive.


WHO claims that the risk of a child dying before completing the first year of age was highest in the some African Region (52 deaths per 1000 live births). This implies that, over seven times higher than that in the WHO European Region which is 7 deaths per 1000 live births.


Prof. Elizabeth Aruma Disu says there are complications associated with preterm babies. “Babies have surved when they were born at 20 – 22 weeks in high-income countries. Extremely preterm babies are born before 28 weeks of gestation. Usually, the babies are less than a thousand grams in weight. That’s about two pure water satchets.”


She also reveals that the lower the birth rate, the more complicated things are for the new-born baby.


“The survival rate could be different due to such factors as where the child is born, the facilities and tools that are available. The complications are varied and can affect all the systems because they are weak. However, top on the list are the complications they have on their eyes, brain, and the respiratory system.


“The babies are also unable to manage body temperature and that’s why they need to be in the incubators. At other times, they be have to be on ventilators, helping them breathe, the brain problems can lead to mental disorders and they could also have cerebral palsy. Much efforts will also be put forth in order for them not to go blind.”


In Nigeria, preterm births should not be a complete bad news because there are children who survive the ordeal though it is expensive.


Causes of preterm in babies could be from the mother who may be suffering from hypertension, infection, detached placenta, or malformations in the uterus. Also, sometimes the mouth of the cervix is incompetent and the baby could just drop out.


Sometimes, there are fibroids that compete for space with the baby. Age also matters, since there is a possibility of preterm births among teenagers and very old mothers. The old mothers she referred to are those around 35 years. There are also many preterm born and doctors don’t know why they come into the world as preterm.


How can preterm babies be really taken care of so that more can survive, what are the costs of taking care of these babies at the hospital? The statistics of premature births in Nigeria is extremely high. What steps can governments take to mitigate this? What are the policy deficiencies we have in our country as regards effectively handling cases of prematurity?


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