The world celebrates Prematurity Day on November 17. This situation concerns children born before 37 weeks of amenorrhea (pregnancy). According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2022, more than 60% of premature births occur in Africa and Asia.
The WHO ranks 10 countries at the top of the list including the DRC, 9th with figures estimated at 341,400 premature births each year.
Among the common causes of these births, Doctor Thésée Kogomba Kebela, senior assistant in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the university clinics of Kinshasa notes:
– Genitourinary, obstetric infections (multiple pregnancy, placenta previa, cervico-isthmic gap, congenital malformations of the uterus)
– Fetal chromosomal anomalies and other congenital malformations
and chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, genetic influence or even stress, poverty and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.
Prematurity has a negative impact on the physical and cognitive development of babies and is the leading cause of death in children under five years old, explains the doctor.
“Premature babies face various health challenges, including respiratory and neurological problems, and developmental delays, as well as consequences linked to the immaturity of all systems, particularly the nervous system (fragility of vessels and cerebral hemorrhage). meningeal), digestive system (digestive disorders such as gastroesophageal reflux, ileus), renal system (increased toxicity of certain medications), immune system (repeated infections), hepatic system (jaundice), thermo-regulatory system (hypothermia). In the long term, these children may suffer from learning disabilities, physical disabilities and chronic health problems.
To deal with this problem, it advises quality care before and during pregnancy, appropriate medical care, regular monitoring of the pregnancy, a balanced diet, stopping smoking and alcohol, management stress and education of pregnant women as well as health professionals. The care of these children is done in a neonatology or perinatology unit and consists of respecting the 5 chains which are asepsis, nutrition, warmth and communication.
According to the WHO, infant mortality rates linked to prematurity remain high in less developed regions, due to lack of access to quality care and suitable equipment. This day also serves as a reminder of the need for continued commitment to improving the health and well-being of children born prematurely.
Nancy Clémence Tshimueneka