Finnish researchers have been creating recommendations that could prevent a huge number of babies from being born dead, prematurely or small in size, especially in poor countries.
Anu Leena Hankaniemi,
A researcher from Tampere Tiia Haapaniemi is a rare motivation to conduct research aimed at reducing the number of babies born prematurely.
The family a bear-boy was born at 29 weeks of pregnancy. He weighed only 1.5 kilos when he was born, but survived. Now Otso is an enthusiastic kindergarten student who will turn two years old in the spring.
– I would hope that all mothers and babies could experience what our family has been able to experience, says Haapaniemi.
Haapaniemi is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Tampere Per Ashorn in the leading international group. The research team published the extensive Series on small vulnerable newborns series of articles in the prestigious medical journal In The Lancet journal in May.
The series of articles presents eight maternity counseling measures that could support the health of pregnant women, especially in low-income countries in Africa and Asia.
According to the researchers, the proposed measures would be inexpensive and easy to implement.
In addition, two measures are presented that can reduce the mortality and other problems of children born prematurely. These include corticosteroid treatment given to the mother before birth and delay in cutting the umbilical cord of the unborn child.
55 researchers from more than 20 universities around the world participated in the writing of the articles.
Every fourth baby is born too early
Per Ashorn and Tiia Haapaniemi are just coming from Senegal. It is one of the countries where there would still be a lot of work to be done.
Worldwide, an estimated 135 million babies were born alive in 2020. One in four babies, or 35 million, were born prematurely or small. The majority of these babies were born in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Even if these children survive to adulthood, they clearly have a weaker chance of succeeding in life than others.
Researchers believe that the new recommendations could reduce the proportion of babies born prematurely, with low birth weight or stillbirth by about a fifth.
Counseling care in Finland is respected around the world. According to Haapaniemi, counseling activities around the world are hindered by, among other things, the belief that pregnancy should not be shown too early. Therefore, monitoring often starts too late.
The topic is being discussed with local and regional decision-makers in Bangladesh, Kenya, Senegal and Peru, in order to commit the countries to solving the problem.
$1.1 billion per year
If measures were taken especially in 81 low- and middle-income countries, it would have major effects, according to the researchers. Every year, an estimated 566,000 babies could be prevented from being born dead and 5.2 million babies from being born prematurely or small.
In the series of articles, it is estimated that the measures would cost about 1.1 billion dollars a year.
This would have a radical effect on society as well as on individual families.
– If I hadn’t received a good counseling service and good treatment, I wouldn’t be at work, I wouldn’t be a tax payer and our little Otso wouldn’t be in kindergarten, researcher Tiia Haapaniemi says.