November is Premature Birth Awareness Month and November 17th Premature Birth Awareness Day. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born too soon each year. More than 1 million babies die due to complications of preterm birth and many of those who survive face a lifetime of disability. Raising awareness of premature birth, particularly around November 17th, can help improve facilities around the globe and give the best possible chance to these babies.
Parent groups, families, health professionals, politicians, hospitals, organisations and other stakeholders involved in preterm birth observe this day with media campaigns, local events and other activities conducted on local, regional, national or international levels to raise awareness among the public. In 2013 Premature Birth Awareness Day was celebrated in over 60 countries.
In the USA The March of Dimes Foundation embrace Premature Birth Awareness Month and Day. The March of Dimes Foundation is a United States non-profit organisation that works to improve the health of mothers and babies. It was founded by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to combat polio. It has since taken up promoting general health for pregnant women and babies. As part of this a sponsored “March for babies” is held yearly in the USA, with proceeds going to neo-natal care facilities.
Here in New Zealand we have “Early buds”, which provides a network of support and information about premature birth and other pregnancy and birth related issues (see link below).
I was surprised to learn that this is only the 4th worldwide awareness day for prematurity: how could something so important not have been given voice sooner? It is great that the links and networks around the world are now so strong and that the “little fighters” are being advocated for and their families supported.