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World Prematurity Day

The March of Dimes launched World Prematurity Awareness Month in 2003 and designated November as the month to publicize the immense pressures that premature babies put on parents, communities, taxpayers, and the government.

November 17 was chosen as World Prematurity Awareness Day. It is observed to bring attention to the high number of babies born prematurely in the United States and around the world.

The goal of World Prematurity Awareness Day is to make people aware of the problems associated with premature births and how the numbers can be drastically reduced with the right education and intervention methods.

Each year, over a half million premature babies are born in the United States and it is estimated that over 15 million more are born worldwide. This is a staggering number that accounts for 1 out of every 9 babies born.

Although some babies born prematurely live without major medical problems, many are not so fortunate. Births that are no more than a few weeks early can put a baby in danger of having slow mental and physical development and it also puts a child at a far greater risk of death during the early stages of its life.

Below is a list of problems that many premature babies are born with and may have to endure for the rest of their lives.

  • Heart problems
  • Lung and other respiratory problems
  • Autism and other psychological problems
  • Vision impairments, including cases of total blindness
  • Hearing impairments and including cases of total deafness
  • Dental and gum problems
  • A high risk of cerebral palsy
  • Anemia, jaundice, and other blood abnormalities
  • Speech impediments
  • Stomach and gastrointestinal problems
  • Learning, logic, and attention disorders
  • Short term memory disorders
  • Long term memory disorders

The costs to care for premature babies in the United States alone runs into the billions of dollars each year. The majority of this cost is paid for by U.S. taxpayers and it ranks as one of the most expensive government health care expenditures.

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