Mrs Olubunmi Lawal, the national president, National Association of Pediatric Nurses (NAPN), on Saturday, said Nigeria ranked third with about 800,000 preterm births annually.
Lawal disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, as the world commemorates 2018 World Prematurity Day with the theme: ‘Working together, partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns.’
She said annually, 15 million babies are born premature globally, out of which 60 per cent are born in Sub-Saharan Africa with one million deaths recorded.
“India ranks first, second is China and third, Nigeria, with 773,600 preterm births yearly. Hence, the need to raise awareness on the challenges and interventions at communities, families, and to government at all levels,’’ she said.
Premature birth, according to her, is a common, costly and critical health problem and also the leading cause of new born death and children under the age of five globally.
“Preterm births are babies born before 37 completed weeks of gestation which are categorised as ‘Extremely Preterm,’ with less than 28 weeks gestation.
“Others are ‘Very Preterm,’ which are babies born between 28 and 32 weeks gestation and ‘Moderate’ to ‘Late’ preterm are babies born between 32 weeks and before 37 weeks gestation,’’ she added.
Lawal listed causes of preterm births to include; placenta abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus during pregnancy; hormonal changes, which could cause stress to the unborn baby or mother, among others.
She explained that babies born too early may experience long-term health issue that affect the brain, lungs, vision, as well as lifetime disabilities, than babies born at full term.
75 per cent of such complications, she said, could be prevented with adequate equipment, skilled health workers and available intensive care units in healthcare facilities.
“This is a call to action, preterm birth is critical and costly to us as a nation, and therefore we want a continuous and sustainable intervention from all stakeholders.
“To achieve Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, the federal and state governments must invest in education, healthcare, research, advocacy and community programmes, to help give every baby the chance to survive and thrive.’’
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