Dispatch

03 May 2012

Global Report: 15 Million Babies Born too Soon, over 1 Million Die Each Year

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Mother kissing her newborn baby. Photo: March of Dimes

A new report provides the first-ever national, regional and global estimates of preterm birth. Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth shows the extent to which preterm birth is on the rise in most countries, and is now the second leading cause of death globally for children under five, after pneumonia.

Addressing preterm birth is now an urgent priority for reaching Millennium Development Goal 4, calling for the reduction of child deaths by two-thirds by 2015. This report shows that rapid change is possible and identifies priority actions for everyone.

The report is a joint effort of almost 50 international, regional and national organizations, led by the March of Dimes, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, Save the Children and the World Health Organization in support of the Every Woman Every Child effort, launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The report shows the extent to which preterm birth is on the rise in most countries, and is now the second leading cause of death globally for children under five, after pneumonia.

"The health of the pregnant woman is key if we want to prevent pre-term birth and save babies born too soon, as is access to skilled birth attendants, such as midwives, before during and after childbirth,” said Laura Laski, chief of the Reproductive Health Branch at UNFPA.

Born Too Soon proposes actions for policy, programs and research by all partners – from governments to NGOs to the business community -- that if acted upon, will substantially reduce the toll of preterm birth, especially in high-burden countries.

The report includes a foreword by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and is accompanied by more than 30 new and expanded commitments to prevention and care of preterm birth, joining more than 200 existing commitments.