Number of premature births could increase
With the adoption of the universal two-child policy, the number of older women becoming pregnant has risen significantly and will result in a rise in the number of premature births, according to an official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Every year in China, about 1.2 million babies are born prematurely or within 37 weeks of conception, accounting for about 7 percent of annual births, according to Song Li, the commission’s deputy head of maternal and infant healthcare.
“Early healthcare and intervention can save the lives of most premature babies,” Song said. “China will promote nursing care techniques for premature babies and formulate a regulation on their healthcare to prevent and reduce death and disabilities.”
Zhang Tuohong, from the World Health Organization’s China Office, said pregnant older women face higher risks, such as diabetes and hypertension, which may result in a growing number turning to assisted reproductive technologies. These factors may all contribute to premature birth.
One of the major nursing techniques being piloted in some areas is “kangaroo mother care” — a measure recommended by the WHO that revolves around direct skin contact between mother and baby, which keeps the infant warm and facilitates breastfeeding.
Zhang said many techniques for nursing premature babies, such as kangaroo mother care, are simple, cheap and easy to apply, but many parents lack awareness of them and even some medical staff don’t know how to implement them.
Globally, premature birth is a major cause of infant mortality, but simply applying the correct nursing techniques can save the lives of 75 percent of premature babies, she said.