Give premature babies a chance to survive
South Africans are urged to mark World Prematurity Day
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 15 2017
FIFTEEN percent of babies in South Africa are born premature. Premature birth is the leading cause of death worldwide in children under the age of five, and babies born too early are more susceptible to long-term health problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision.
Friday marks World Prematurity Day, and the day aims to educate citizens on prematurity and to rally in support of the fourth Millennium Development Goal to halve the under-five mortality rate between the years 2010 and 2025.
Nurse and midwife Lynne Bluff said mothers should be aware of information related to medical conditions that could result in pre-term labour.
“It is crucial to consult with a midwife or obstetrician, as in many instances, preterm labour can be halted.”
Bluff said having regular antenatal care was crucial and mothers should take care of themselves during their pregnancy.
“It is important to realise that in the majority of premature births there is nothing a mom could have done to prevent it from occurring. However, expectant moms should take care of themselves during pregnancy.”
Bluff said expectant women should manage weight gain and visit a dentist regularly to avoid infected gums as they produce prostaglandins, the same hormones that initiate labour.
South Africans have been urged to wear purple and to purchase the official R10 World Prematurity Day sticker at Toys R Us on the day. Funds raised through this initiative aim to improve healthcare to premature babies around the country.
In South Africa, neonatal facilities at hospitals are overcrowded. The neonatal intensive care unit at Groote Schuur Hospital reports a frequent occupancy rate of 120% as opposed to the desired 80% occupation rate. This type of overcrowding may lead to an increased risk of infection and further complications for these babies.
By donating funds to neonatal facilities and programmes, babies born as early as 26 weeks will have a fighting chance of survival. These donations will be put towards improving the facilities so that there is more space for patients, providing up-to-date medical treatment and the opportunity to facilitate kangaroo care.
Tomorrow, the Mom’s Milk on the Move project, aiming to increase the survival rates of premature babies by facilitating access to much-needed breast milk, will be held at Groote Schuur. The project is the first of its kind in South Africa and will be held in collaboration with organisations like the Newborns Trust and Scully Scooters.
Consol Glass has also come to the party, donating enough glass jars for a year, which can be sterilised and used by moms to express breast milk for their babies.
THESE DONATIONS WILL BE PUT TOWARDS IMPROVING THE FACILITIES SO THAT THERE IS MORE SPACE
GENEROUS: A premature baby at the Groote Schuur premature unit. South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk has donated R500 000 to the premature baby unit.