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World Prematurity Day

Hundreds of Kiwi Babies in Neonatal Units on World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day. Officially launched and celebrated for the first time in 2011, in less than a decade, it has grown exponentially as a global day around the world marked in more than 50 countries.

World Prematurity Day (November 17) celebrates and acknowledges the 15 million babies born early around the globe. In New Zealand, approximately 1 in 10 of babies are born prematurely. That's one every 90 minutes, and over 5,000 EVERY YEAR.

Babies are classified as premature if they are born before 37 weeks gestation. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Many arrive very early – some as early as 17 weeks early (23 weeks gestation).

Neil O’Styke, Executive Director of The Neonatal Trust stated “If the averages play true, today there will be 16 babies born premature in New Zealand on World Prematurity Day.”

“They will join hundreds of premature and sick full-term babies already being cared for in a neonatal unit.”

Some stays in a neonatal unit last just a few days, others take a very long time and can last months. Examples of personal stories can be viewed on The Neonatal Trust website

To recognise World Prematurity Day, volunteers co-ordinated by The Neonatal Trust are providing morning teas for parents with a baby in a neonatal unit, as well as the staff that care for them. These morning teas are themed purple, the official colour of World Prematurity Day and The Neonatal Trust provided each neonatal unit with a supply of purple bunting, balloons, table cloths and more.
Neil O’Styke, Executive Director of The Neonatal Trust, which is supporting World Prematurity Day in New Zealand, said: “To acknowledge World Prematurity Day teams will be organising morning teas for the fantastic and dedicated staff in every Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) as well as the families in the units on this day”.

“Each year, over 5,000 premature babies and their families make the journey through neonatal intensive care in this country. World Prematurity Day is a chance to celebrate our premature babies and raise awareness of the challenges they and their families face.”

The Neonatal Trust provides support for families with babies in a neonatal unit. This includes helping in practical ways by providing information, purchasing or contributing to the cost of equipment and also providing emotional and other support in order to ‘make a difficult start to life a little bit easier’. Examples include:

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