Nearly half of all child deaths in India are caused by pre-term births, the highest amongst its neighbours, a report by ‘Save the Children’ revealed . ”Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth” said that every year, 27 million pre-term babies are born in India which exposes them to an enormous risk of dying early, often shortly after their birth with the deaths caused being second only to pneumonia. ”Early marriage and pregnancy, inadequate nutritional intake by pregnant women and lack of adequate health interventions were among other reasons that contributed to such a high rate of pre-term pregnancy, exposing both the mother and the baby to risk,” Save the Children India CEO, Thomas Chandy said.
For the report, pre-term was defined as 37 weeks of completed gestation or less, which is the standard WHO definition. As per Rajiv Tandon, senior advisor for maternal, child and newborn health, Save the Children India said that the problem of premature birth needed both attention and intervention if India wanted to improve its record. However, a key way to reduce preterm numbers is to find ways to help all pregnancies go to full term, or 39 weeks. A number of risk factors for preterm birth have been identified, including a prior history of preterm birth, underweight, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, infection, maternal age (either under 17 or over 40), genetics, multi-fetal pregnancy (twins, triplets, and higher), and pregnancies spaced too closely together.