Thursday, 15 November 2012

Why You Need to Be Concerned About World Prematurity Day

There are two twitter parties taking place for World Prematurity Day. The first of these is on Friday as part of the #borntoosoon network, Tommy's are taking part in the Global Twitter Relay at 1pm on Friday. Please join us to talk about preventing premature birth and find out some exciting news about developments in this area.  Tomorrow I will tell you more about Saturday and about the work Bliss are doing for World Prematurity Day.

It's natural, as the owner of a my own premature baby, born at 27 weeks, that World Prematurity Day should be of concern to me. But it should concern you as well.

Pre-term birth is a public health issue and even a feminist issue, and let me tell you why. We know that pre-term birth is more likely to happen, from a global perspective, where women have less power. Where women have poor access to health care, to sound nutrition, where women are impoverished, where women work too hard, and have high stress levels, where women are encouraged to give birth too young, and have too many babies too close together. That is indisputable. 

Many of the treatments of complications that cause prematurity, and most pointedly treatments that can save the life of a baby are simply not made available in many communities around the world. Some of these things are very cheap or indeed free. There is no reason why in every community, kangaroo care cannot be taught to mothers of pre-term infants. It's basic mothercare, and can save the life of a fragile baby. The Born Too Soon report estimates nearly 500 000 babies can be saved through this alone. 

On a local scale we know too that pre-term birth affects young mothers, mums who take drugs, mums who have poor access to ongoing education. We also know that pre-term birth happens for no identifiable, easy preventable reasons too. Research into pregnancy complications and pre-term birth is very poorly funded.  Even in the UK we see huge discrepancies in care from one NHS primary care trust to another. And that isn't right.

Pre-term birth means a lot more than just small babies. Babies born prematurely often have poorer long term health outcomes. Also, some of the conditions and factors that cause pre-term birth adversely affect the health of the mother, often catastrophically, infection and pre-eclampsia don't just take babies. They take mothers too.

Pre-term birth carries huge social and financial cost. It is right that we invest in these tiny lives, but surely we need to look harder at what we can do to reduce the risk of pre-term birth in the first place, and if pre-term birth does happen to have the very best in care available at a local level.

What pre-term birth has taught me, is that I am passionate about the health of women and babies everywhere. I think its wrong for any woman to be denied access to good antenatal care and preventative treatments. If you think its wrong, join me. Send a tweet, retweet others, share on Facebook. There will be stories galore for you to share and discussions to join in. Let's make this day matter.


  1. What a brilliant post!! x

  2. Nice article, thanks for the information.

    Anna @

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