Preterm births and associated problems are of significant concern for Europe and are the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years worldwide. Every year, hundreds of thousands of babies are born before the 37th week of pregnancy, putting them at risk of numerous short and long-term health problems.
Fetal health is essential for the well-being of newborns, and the need for medical advances to reduce the number of preterm births in Europe is paramount. In this blog post, we will look at why medical advances are crucial to reducing preterm births in Europe and how they could help improve the lives of mothers and babies across the continent.
Preterm births are a leading cause of death in newborns
Every day, nearly 15 million babies are born around the world. Unfortunately, many of these births are premature or preterm. Preterm birth is the leading cause of neonatal mortality, accounting for around three-quarters of all infant deaths.
While there are many risk factors associated with preterm birth, poor fetal health is one of the most significant ones. Poor fetal health can occur due to several reasons, including malnutrition and infections during pregnancy, due to a lack of access to adequate healthcare services or living in poverty. But it also can happen due to excessive exposure of a mother to environmental pollution chemicals or drugs taken during pregnancy. As such, medical advances must be made to help improve fetal health and reduce the incidence of preterm births in Europe.
Preterm births are costly and place a burden on families
While most preterm births are treated with care, there are long-term consequences that can have a lasting impact on a family’s finances, emotional well-being, and future plans.
The total costs and efforts of caring for a baby who is born preterm can be enormous. The immediate costs of neonatal care are staggering, but this does not include the longer-term costs associated with long-term health problems. Medical care for preterm infants can quickly add up, as well as the costs of therapies, specialised equipment, and other medical needs throughout the child’s life. This can put a tremendous financial burden on families, particularly those who are already struggling financially.
The emotional toll that preterm births take on families can be just as great as the financial burden. The stress of having to care for a baby who is born prematurely can cause strain on relationships and make it challenging to keep up with daily tasks. Families may also feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of medical costs and uncertain outcomes. Fortunately, medical advances are being made to help reduce the number of preterm births in Europe.
Preterm births can cause long-term health problems
When a baby is born too early, it may suffer from some medical issues, such as underdeveloped organs, breathing difficulties, and underdeveloped immune systems. These health problems can cause long-term disability, which can be both physically and emotionally burdensome.
Preterm babies may suffer from developmental delays, vision and hearing impairments, and even neurological problems. Studies have also found that babies who are born preterm are at an increased risk for chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. The physical issues that arise due to preterm birth can lead to mental health issues later in life.
Children who were born preterm may suffer from anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and behavioural problems. This can disrupt their daily lives and make it difficult for them to reach their full potential. The long-term physical and mental health problems that can come from preterm births can take a toll on the family members of the baby as well.
Medical advances can help reduce the incidence of preterm births
Medical advances can help improve the outcomes of preterm births by making it easier to diagnose them earlier and provide better care to the mother and baby. This can include better monitoring of maternal and fetal health throughout pregnancy, improved treatments and interventions to reduce the risk of preterm birth, and a better understanding of the causes of preterm birth. With early diagnosis and improved care, medical professionals can take steps to reduce the risk of preterm birth.
This includes providing appropriate nutrition, managing blood pressure, and avoiding activities that may be hazardous to the baby’s health. In addition, some medications can be used to reduce the risk of preterm birth and help prevent complications from preterm labour. In addition, medical advances can help reduce the cost of preterm births. Early diagnosis can help avoid unnecessary hospitalisations, tests, and treatments, which can add up quickly. By providing better care and interventions, preterm births can be reduced, saving families a great deal of money.
Medical advances can also help reduce the long-term health risks associated with preterm births. With improved diagnosis and care, medical professionals can provide support to ensure that these conditions are monitored closely and treated appropriately. Medical advances have already helped to reduce the mortality rate for preterm babies in recent years. The use of antenatal steroids, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of death in preterm babies by up to 30%.
Antenatal steroids also help to reduce the risk of respiratory problems in preterm babies. Additionally, the use of surfactant therapy has significantly improved the outcomes for preterm babies with respiratory distress syndrome. This treatment helps to improve the lung function of preterm babies and reduce the risk of death. In addition to these treatments, there have been some other medical advances that have helped to improve the outcomes of preterm births in Europe. For example, recent advances in technology have enabled doctors to monitor fetal growth and detect signs of preterm labour before it occurs.
This allows doctors to intervene earlier and potentially prevent preterm birth. Advances in neonatal care have also helped to improve the outcomes for preterm babies, including better support for breathing and nutrition, as well as improved management of infections. These medical advances have had a significant impact on reducing the mortality rate for preterm babies in Europe. However, more must be done to ensure that all preterm babies receive the best possible care and have access to the latest treatments. We must continue to invest in medical research and development to further reduce the incidence of preterm births and improve the outcomes for preterm babies in Europe.
Summary – How the LIFESAVER Project is addressing the challenges of preterm births in Europe
Preterm births are a considerable concern for Europe, and we must find ways to reduce them. The LIFESAVER Project, funded by the European Commission, is working to develop better tools and technologies to identify, monitor, and reduce the risks of preterm birth.
These advances in medical science can help improve the outcomes for babies born prematurely, as well as provide support for families affected by preterm births. With the right resources, families can be given the support they need to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of caring for a preterm baby. We are hopeful the LIFESAVER Project can help us ensure fetal and maternal safety to give babies a healthier start.