A new report by UN agencies states that the past decade has recorded 152 million babies were born prematurely with high risk of fatal outcomes. Every two seconds, a baby is born prematurely, and one of them suffer mortality every 40 seconds. The report reveals that almost half of all pre-term births (earlier than 37th week gestation) occurred in India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China, and Ethiopia. Overall, 45% of the global childbirths were preterm. Since preterm births are associated with high mortality risk, this data indicates prevailing “silent emergency” related to children’s health and survival.
During the first year of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, 13.4 million babies were born preterm. The year also accorded one million premature birth related fatalities. The highest preterm births were recorded in Bangladesh, followed by Malawi and Pakistan.
Factors influencing premature birth risk are – lifestyle factors, climate change, chronic diseases, and in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Statistics suggest that the past decade has seen little or no regional variation in preterm birth rates. A few countries have modestly progressed towards achieving lower preterm birth rates.
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