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World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day

World Prematurity Day is being celebrated by The Neonatal Trust in New Zealand this Saturday, 17 November.

There are five Neonatal Trusts in New Zealand, based in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. They support parents of premature babies in the country’s five hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).

Special picnics are being held in these areas on Saturday for families who have experienced a premature birth, to mark World Prematurity Day.

Ten per cent of all babies born have to go to a hospital neonatal unit; that is around 6000 babies a year in New Zealand. A premature baby is born in New Zealand every 90 minutes.

“The incidence of premature birth is growing all the time so more and more families need our support,” says National Neonatal Trust CEO Michael Meads.

“The number of women over 35 having babies is increasing and as the maternal population gets older more women are using IVF to conceive. The risk of premature labour is higher for older mothers and the risks are also greater for multiple pregnancies which can result from the IVF process. These factors are contributing to the growing incidence of premature births.

“The Trust’s role is to support the parents through this time. As babies are often flown from around the country to these five special units, families can end up spending weeks or even months away from home as their baby grows. We support these families with everything from providing a few meals through to paying for a specialist nurse for the family when they get home.”

Mr Meads says Wellington’s NICU unit is world class and is considered to be one of the best in the world. Wellington’s NICU treats babies born as early as 23 weeks from around the country.


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