The UN on Wednesday released its “Born Too Soon” report, stating that premature births — which claim the lives of 1M babies annually —are the leading cause of child mortality in the world, with no progress having been made in reducing preterm births for a decade.
The preterm birth rate was 9.8% in 2010 and increased to 9.9% in 2020. In high-income countries, 90% of babies born before six months of pregnancy will survive, but in low-income countries, this drops to 10%.
A lack of adequate health services contribute to this “silent emergency,” which sees premature births accounting for more than one in five deaths of children before their fifth birthday. Often survivors face lifelong health consequences that include an increased likelihood of disability and developmental delays. It’s imperative that governments ensure every woman has access to quality health care before and during pregnancy to reduce these inexcusable statistics.
Repeating ineffective actions and expecting different results is foolish. There has been no change in reducing preterm birth rates in any region, meaning it's time to change our current methods. While it's critical that women have access to proper health care, solving this global crisis requires a new look at the entire holistic environment that impacts women: from economic disparity to racial inequalities and inadequate education to a lack of family planning.