Global Health Community Releases New Resources for Leading Cause of Death for Young Children

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Save the Children and other global health and advocacy organizations call on media to raise awareness of prevention and treatment options for premature births

A study published in The Lancet last week finds that complications from preterm birth are the leading cause of death of children under age 5 in the world. In anticipation of World Prematurity Day (WPD) on November 17, leading global health advocates have released new tools and resources (http://www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday) to help raise awareness of and more effectively prevent preterm births to ensure that premature babies are helped to survive and thrive.

Last year, more than 1 million – or 1 in 5 – child deaths were due to complications from premature birth. Although the burden of preterm deaths is concentrated in low-and middle-income countries, preterm birth affects families in every country. Civil society organizations, parent groups, and governments around the world are encouraging media to share this important information to help raise awareness and spur action to prevent premature births and help premature babies survive and regain their health.

Simple measures can help mitigate risks for preterm babies, such as kangaroo mother care (http://bit.ly/2fFRovI) – an intervention that involves keeping a newborn wrapped against the mother’s chest to improve the outcomes for premature and low birthweight babies by increasing monitoring of the baby’s condition, keeping the baby warm, improving nutrition, and strengthening the parent-baby bond.

Additionally, many countries are creating more comprehensive and innovative plans to improve newborn survival and health. This World Prematurity Day, Nigeria and Nepal will launch Newborn Action Plans with new measures to accelerate progress for newborn health. The plans outline specific actions to improve the quality care for newborns and mothers during labor and birth, and for the provision of essential care during the first week of life.

Preventing deaths and complications from preterm births starts with a healthy pregnancy and quality care during the antenatal period. This month, the World Health Organization published antenatal care guidelines (http://bit.ly/1jRwJTY) with key interventions, such as dietary recommendations, ultrasound scans, and increased contact with health care professionals, to help prevent and manage preterm births.

For more information on the risks, treatments, and preventive measures for preterm birth, including celebrity PSAs and other materials for media, visit the online media kit (http://bit.ly/2eNTV6R).

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John Engels
Save the Children
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