Give pre­ma­ture ba­bies a chance to sur­vive

South Africans are urged to mark World Pre­ma­tu­rity Day

Cape Argus - - NEWS - Yolisa Tswanya


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.



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.

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