Perhaps you know a premature baby or perhaps your baby was premature – either way, spare a thought on #WorldPrematurityDay this Sunday for all of the babies worldwide who are born early
A whopping 15 million babies are born prematurely each year globally and it seems boys are more likely to arrive early.
According to new figures, collated by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an extra 5,700 baby boys in the UK are born early each year – that’s 14% higher than the number of girls. In 2012, 34,400 boys were born before 37 weeks compared to 28,700 girls.
‘Even in the womb, girls mature more rapidly than boys, which provides an advantage because the lungs and other organs are more developed,’ says lead researcher Professor Joy Lawn.
A whopping 15 million babies are born prematurely each year globally and it seems boys are more likely to arrive early
The research found that premature baby boys have higher rates of disability and can suffer from health problems, including cerebral palsy, breathing problems and visual impairment.
‘If you are born premature, even that little difference in maturity between girls and boys can make a big difference – particularly in breathing complications for boys,’ Professor Lawn says.
Both old and young mums are at risk of premature birth, with older woman facing issues including high blood pressure, diabetes and medical complications, Professor Lawn told MailOnline. IVF has also been linked to premature birth.
Read all of the risks and signs of early labour and how to care for a premature baby at home.
‘Having a premature baby can be incredibly difficult for families and the babies themselves can have longer term health problems,’ says Jacqui Clinton, health campaigns director at UK baby charity Tommy’s. ‘The only way forward is to find a way of reducing premature births, which is why Tommy’s research into prematurity and prevention is vital.’
Tommy’s will be uniting parents and loved ones of babies born prematurely with the launch of website Tommy’s Tower. The site aims to provide a place for those who have experienced prematurity and hopes to aim £400,000 to open a new research centre.
Bliss is another UK charity dedicated to care and support for premature babies and their families – a very worthy cause that we're supporting with the Mother&Baby Big Heart Awards.
Have you experienced a premature birth? Share your experience below.