New data prompts a call to action on World Prematurity Day for greater
education on associated risks and support for mothers of premature
MONTREAL, Nov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - On the first World Prematurity Awareness
Day on 17 November 2011, a global survey of 1,300 mothers and
mothers-to-be reveals the need to increase the level of information on
premature birth and the associated risks available to new and
prospective mothers. The global survey results also reveal the impact
of premature birth on mothers, who are burdened by worry for their
child's future and complications in their development. The survey was
sponsored by Abbott, the global healthcare company.
Complications of prematurity are the number one cause of death for
babies during the first month of life. Mothers and mothers-to-be,
however, showed a low awareness of the extent of prematurity and all
the associated risks for premature babies. Over two thirds of those
surveyed did not know the incidence of premature birth, and 42% of
mothers underestimated the level to be far below the actual 10%
The findings highlight the emotional pressures experienced by mothers of
premature babies. About half of all mothers felt stressed upon giving
birth, but those who had had premature infants experienced
significantly more anxiety, guilt, fear and powerlessness compared to
mothers of full-term infants. The survey also showed that 42% of
mothers with premature babies are concerned about the long-term health
complications, and 36% believe that they will fall behind in physical
development. Their concern extends beyond health concerns; 1 in 4
mothers (24%) believe prematurity will mean that their child will fail
to achieve at the same level as other children at school.
"These findings reflect what we hear from parents in the Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit," explained Dr. Leonora Hendson, Director of the
Neonatal and Infant Follow-up Clinic at the Glenrose Rehabilitation
Hospital in Edmonton. "Parents of preemie babies are very worried and
want information that will help them to manage the risks and ensure
their children are happy and healthy."
Katharina Straub, an Edmonton mother of twins born at 27 weeks,
describes how stressful her experience was. "I had no idea that I was
at risk of having my children early, despite the fact that I was an
older mother and was having multiples. It just wasn't something my
doctor discussed with me," said Straub. "I was shocked to end up in the
neonatal unit, with my twins in incubators. The experience was very
stressful. It goes from being something joyful to something filled with
The survey revealed that mothers of premature babies rely on physicians
as one of their main sources of information. These mothers also
demonstrated their need for additional support once they were
discharged from the hospital, with half of mothers wanting more
information on the risks associated with preterm births, additional
medical care and more follow-up from the physician or nurse for their
child. The survey showed that mothers should be better informed of key
health risks for both premature and full term babies. For example, at
least 32% of women are unaware of the high risk season for respiratory
infection in their country, a time when premature infants are most in
danger of a potentially serious respiratory infection. This is of
particular importance for mothers of premature babies, as the results
showed that twice as many premature babies had contracted a respiratory
infection compared to full-term babies. Furthermore, 40% of mothers
with premature babies were not aware of simple preventative measures
that can be taken to protect their child against respiratory infection.
Silke Mader, Executive Board Chairwoman, European Foundation for the
Care of Newborn Infants, comments, "As many as 1 in 10 babies are born
prematurely and it is vital that access to information and support for
prospective and new parents is stepped up. On this day - the first ever
World Prematurity Awareness Day - we are encouraging greater awareness,
access to information, and emotional support for pregnant women and
mothers of premature babies. This is the beginning of a long journey to
raise awareness of prematurity and its risks."
The global prematurity survey was conducted in 13 countries including
Canada. It gathered responses from 1,300 parents of premature infants
and full-term infants, as well as prospective parents. The primary
focus was to assess the understanding and awareness about prematurity
in general, and the burden of premature birth and its associated risks.
About World Prematurity Day
The first World Prematurity Day, previously known as Prematurity
Awareness Day, is taking place on 17 November 2011. It is an initiative
of the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI),
March of Dimes, National Premmie Foundation and LittleBigSouls.
Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the
discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals
and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics.
The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in
more than 130 countries. Abbott's news releases and other information
are available on the company's Web site at www.abbott.com.
1 World Health Organization (WHO): The worldwide incidence of preterm
birth: a systematic review of maternal mortality and morbidity.
Accessed September 2011.
SOURCE ABBOTT LABORATORIES LIMITED
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