1 out of 10 babies are born too early in the United States (before 37 weeks of pregnancy is completed). (Source) These premature babies may have a variety of health problems both at birth as well as later in life. They also often need to stay at the hospital for an extended period of time (days, weeks or months) in what’s known as the NICU (or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), which is the part of the hospital that takes care of newborns. (Source)
While the number of preterm births is decreasing here in the United States, it’s sadly on the rise globally. It’s estimated that 15 million babies are born preterm each year and complications of this are the leading cause of deaths to children under 5 years old. There’s a vast difference in survival depending on income as poorer countries aren’t able to provide what’s needed – more than three-quarters of premature babies could be saved with feasible, cost-effective care. (Source)
You should know: While there are risk factors that could lead to a preterm birth, even if a woman does “everything right” during pregnancy, she can still have a premature baby. (Source)
2 MINUTE ACTION PLAN:
We can definitely help premature babies, but how you help is going to be dependent on whether or not you have friends or family who have recently had a preemie. We’ve tried to include action plans for either scenario as best we can.
Check In. Families with newborn premature babies are going through a very stressful time. While there are ways to help them (coming up in future action plans) that involve more time, don’t overestimate a simple check in to see how they’re doing. Let them know that you’re there for them. They could use the extra support right now.
Donate Books. Wanting to help premature babies, but don’t know any? Donate some books to your local NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Parents don’t often have “normal” routines when they visit their baby — picture incubators, machines monitoring their breathing, etc. It’s a scary time. So, simply reading to their baby can be relaxing for both family and baby. Confirm with your NICU of choice first, and then one-click order those books from Amazon right on over.