This year marks the 5th Annual World Prematurity Day on November 17th and Australia’s leading premmie charity Life’s Little Treasures supported by Medela Australia is marking this special occasion with an infographic and album release to raise awareness for prematurity and related issues.
Founded in 2005, Life’s Little Treasures was born out of the need for attention to prematurity. Created by parents of premature or sick babies, the foundation provides vital community services and education. Parents who have premature babies and need assistance can find it through this organization.
How common is prematurity?
The reason behind the release of Life’s Little Treasures 76 real stories for World Prematurity Day is that 76 premature births occur every day – and that’s just in Australia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 million premature babies are born each year. WHO notes that this number is on the rise. Not only do premature births account for between 5 and 18 percent of all babies born (again, according to WHO), but the resulting complications are the leading cause of death among children under age five.
What causes preterm birth?
In many cases the precise cause is unknown. The Victoria State Government’s Better Health Channel notes, risk factors include maternal high blood pressure, diabetes, severe illness, smoking, previous preterm birth and multiple pregnancy. Depending on the cause and the individual situation, some cases of prematurity may be delayed. This typically involves medical intervention at a hospital or by a healthcare provider.
How does Life’s Little Treasures help parents?
The foundation supplies mums and dads with easy access to support groups and counselling services. Why counseling? Having a premature baby often causes significant stress for the parents. From dealing with hospital stays to ongoing medical or developmental issues, the life of a premmie parent is changed forever. Parents of premature and sick children may experience difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, hostility, mood swings, sleeplessness, irritability, changes in appetite and even a sense of detachment (among other aspects of depression, sadness and anxiety). A foundation such as Life’s Little Treasures offers light where parents may not see any along with a sense of belonging. Mums, dads and other caregivers can connect with other parents of premmies, share experiences and bond.
What do parents of premmies have to deal with?
Some have very little to deal with. Depending on the gestational age of the child when he or she is born and other medical factors, premmies may (or may not) have health and/or developmental issues. Immediate complications may include lung disease and problematic breathing (due to the baby’s lungs not being fully developed at the time of birth), feeding issues, difficulty controlling a steady body temperature, a slowed heart rate and jaundice (or yellowing of the skin). Babies who are born at or before 24 weeks have roughly a one in three chance of suffering from disabilities. These vary. Some common disabilities for premature-born children are cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness and intellectual delays. Children who are born at later gestational dates may have less severe issues. That said, they may still have learning problems such as reading issues or delays.
World Prematurity Day seeks to put the issues of preterm births in the spotlight. It provides the public with information and breeds awareness for the issues at hand. The more that mums (and dads too!) know about prematurity, the better equipped they are to handle the situation if it should arise.
Parents of premmies don’t have to feel isolated or alone in their journey. With resources from Life’s Little Treasures and the support of others who have been in or are currently in the same situation, parents can prepare to face the challenges of prematurity.
Even though the comforting words of a support group or kind ears of a counsellor can’t change the fact that a child is born days, weeks or even months before her due date, the help and community that parents gain does make a difference. It gives parents hope. And, after all, isn’t that (along with unconditional love) what truly matters to mums and dads?
Kids Business Communications hosts the Bloggers BrunchTM and Bloggers BBQTM series of events where bloggers and brands meet and mingle. These events also raise awareness and funds for different charities. For more information www.kidsbusiness.com.au