As many as one in 10 babies are born prematurely each year all over the world, according to a report led by the World Health Organization. That amounts to 15 million babies, one million of whom pass away soon after they are born. According to the report, as many as three fourths of those deaths could easily be prevented if those babies had access to basic health care.
The report, called Born Too Soon and researched by 44 different organizations, grouped the births by country providing a unique insight into premature births and deaths resulting from being born early on a global basis. India ranks highest for preemie births, followed by China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Indonesia. The United States actually ranks fifth on premature births, while Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil are all within the top 10 as well.
The report defined premature births as those taking place before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and said a full term pregnancy lasts 40 weeks (interesting, when you see how many doctors suggest induction at 38 weeks!). There are 11 countries where preemie births exceed 15 percent (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa), but the report emphasizes that premature births are very much a worldwide problem.
Dr Lale Say from the World Health Organization said: "It is very striking to see that preterm births have a similar burden all around the world - but due to different reasons. In developing countries it is due to things like infections, HIV, malaria and poor nutrition. In developed countries there are totally different risk factors - an older delivery age, diabetes, obesity and multiple births due to IVF."
The worst thing is that simple things like antiseptic creams for cord infections or even "safe birth kits" for developing countries things that are not at all expensive could prevent a huge number of the tragic preemie deaths that are happening all over the world. This report makes it clear that premature births are a huge medical problem in many parts of the world.