A Million Babies Born Too Soon Die Every Year

A “silent emergency” claiming one million babies born prematurely each year requires concerted action to swiftly improve children’s health and survival, according to a new report released by UN agencies and partners.

An estimated 13.4 million babies were born premature in 2020, with nearly a million dying from pre-term complications, according to Born too soon: Decade of action on preterm birth.

Preterm birth is now the leading cause of child deaths, accounting for more than 1 in 5 of all deaths of children occurring before their 5th birthday. Preterm survivors can face lifelong health consequences, with an increased likelihood of disability and developmental delays.

Maternal health risks, such as adolescent pregnancy and pre-eclampsia, are closely linked to preterm births. This underlines the need to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services, including effective family planning, with high-quality care in pregnancy and around the time of birth.

The past decade has also seen a growth of community activism on preterm birth and stillbirth prevention, driven by networks of parents, health professionals, academia, civil society, and others. Throughout the world, groups for affected families of preterm birth have been at the forefront of advocating for access to better care and policy change and supporting other families.

Born Too Soon – 2023 Decade of Action on Preterm Birth

Author:World Health Organisation

Publisher:World Health Organization

Publication Date:10 May 2023

Tags:Africa, Children and Youth, Health and Medicine, Pregnancy and Childbirth, Women and Gender

Every 2 seconds, a baby is born
too soon. Every 40 seconds, one of
those babies dies.
· 152 million babies were born too soon in the
last decade.
· Preterm birth is the leading cause of child
mortality, accounting for nearly 1 in 5 of
under-5 deaths.
· 3 in 4 of stillbirths are born preterm based on
data from high- and upper middle-income

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