Published:  03:36 PM, 21 March 2019

Over 4.5 lakhs premature babies take birth every year

Over 4.5 lakhs premature babies take birth every year
A young lady Irani Sarkar, aged around 25, gave birth to a premature baby about two years back. She along with her husband Alamgir Sarkar has been visiting Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) every week since the child’s birth because the baby was underweight.

This is not the end of their plights. The baby had to be admitted at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for couple of times. The baby was born around two and half months before the stipulated time. That is why the baby was kept in incubator for one month after delivery. At one stage, doctors suggested to keep the baby in Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) system.

In such ways, the baby was kept in NICU for few days, in KMC system for some days and at home for rest of the days in a month. Subsequently, the baby was becoming sicker day by day. This caused severe worries to the family. Not only Alamgir-Irani couple, but also many other couple are facing trouble with their premature and underweight babies. In Bangladesh, over 4.5 lakhs premature and underweight babies take birth annually, according to a UNICEF report. Of them, around 23,600 babies die before their age turn five, said former Health Minister Mohammd Nasim at the parliament last year.

In the whole world, 15 million premature and underweight children take birth which is 5 percent of the total delivery. Malnutrition of pregnant mothers, child marriage, diabetics of mother, smoking and environment pollution are the main reasons of giving birth to such premature and underweight babies, said child health specialists. Public awareness about healthcare of pregnant mother and empowerment of women is very important to combat the problem, they said. Awareness and proper care can reduce the premature child mortality rate by 70 to 80 percent, they opined. Sufficient care by mother and KMC system is very effective to protect premature babies. Different medical studies recently showed that babies become normal quicker by KMC system treatment than treatment in incubator, said the medical experts.

The system was firstly introduced in Bangladesh in 1990. Now, the service is available at different government and non-government hospitals in the capital, doctors informed. Besides, proper care and treatment of pregnant mothers can resist delivering premature babies, they think. If a girl child is married before 18, when her body is not become fit to conceive, So, it is very natural that the girl will give birth to a premature baby, said child rights experts.

If the time gap between giving birth to two babies is less than 2 years, the second baby may be prematured or underweight, said Professor Dr. Abdul Mannan, child specialist of BSMMU. In villages, women often cook in traditional cooker that emits smokes. This smoke is very hazardous for pregnant women and it creates possibility to give birth premature and underweight babies. So, pregnant women must be kept away from such smoke, the doctors said. Alcohol, smoking or consumption of any kind of tobacco is hazardous for pregnant women.

If any woman keep continuing consuming alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, the baby may take birth with different types of health complexities, “We must give priority on preventing delivery of premature and underweight babies. It is not very difficult. Rather following of some basic rules, proper care and food of pregnant mothers can easily prevent delivering such babies,” Prof Mannan said.

Regular breast feeding is very essential to cure infant babies from different kind of health complexities, he said. Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque at a programme recently said delivering premature babies has become a common phenomenon in Bangladesh. The government through different public hospital is providing necessary healthcare facilities to the pregnant women. Besides, special care and facilities have been arranged in different government hospital to provide proper treatment to premature babies, he said.

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