This is the result of new recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. It refers to newborns born before 37 weeks gestation or weighing less than 2.5 kilograms. The new guidelines could revolutionize the care of premature babies, said pediatrician Karen Edmond, who oversees the issue at the WHO in Geneva.
In many clinics, the handling has so far been handled differently. It is understood that babies born prematurely, who often have trouble regulating their body temperature, would need to be stabilized in an incubator and with breathing apparatus before contact with their mother. The WHO now thinks that is wrong. “The first hug with a parent is not only emotionally important, but also absolutely critical to improving the chances of survival and the health of preterm babies.”
All babies, even those who still have difficulty breathing, could benefit from immediate close skin contact. Infant intensive care units should be adapted to allow mothers to stay with their infants 24/7 and have as much skin-to-skin contact with them as possible. This reduces the risk of infections in children, and many gain weight more quickly. For its new recommendations, the WHO evaluated more than 200 studies that shed light on how to deal with premature babies immediately after birth.
862 premature babies in Upper Austria
Every ninth child worldwide is born prematurely, i.e. before the end of the 37th week of pregnancy (36 +6). In Austria, this affected 7.1 percent of all live births in 2021, around 6,000 newborns were born prematurely. In Upper Austria, 15,119 children saw the light of day last year, 862 of them as premature babies (5.7 percent).
Premature birth rate: A comparison of the federal states
50 premature babies in Upper Austria weighed less than a kilogram. A total of 253 children weighed less than two kilograms.