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Pakistan Ranks Second in The World in Number of Preterm Births: UN Agencies


By Suleman Chaudhary

LAHORE MIRROR — Pakistan is among those top 5 countries including India, Nigeria, china and Ethiopia accounted for 45 per cent of all babies born early before 37 weeks of pregnancy worldwide in 2020, according to a new report released by UN agencies.

As per report in 2020, an estimated 13.4 million babies were born pre-term in 2020, with nearly 1 million dying from preterm complications a single largest cause of child mortality, many surviving babies face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.

Preterm birth rates vary between regions, the highest occurring in Southern Asia, where 13.2% of babies were born preterm in 2020, compared to fewer than 8% of births in Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia, Northern America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Born too soon: decade of action on preterm birth, produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) together with PMNCH — the world’s largest alliance for women, children, and adolescents, sounds the alarm on a “silent emergency” of preterm birth, long under-recognized in its scale and severity, which is impeding progress in improving children’s health and survival.

According to global estimates, Bangladesh has the highest preterm birth rate 16.2%, followed by Malawi 14.5%, Pakistan 14.4 India 13 and South Africa 13. Almost half (45%) of all preterm births in 2020 occurred in just five countries: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and Ethiopia.

India had the highest number of preterm births in 2020 (3.02 million, accounting for over 23% of all preterm births worldwide) with Pakistan 914,000, Nigeria 774100 and China 752 900 and Ethiopia 495 900. The high numbers of preterm births in these countries reflect not only their high numbers of total births, but also higher preterm birth rates.

Of every 10 babies born, 1 is preterm and every 40 seconds, 1 of those babies dies. Preterm birth rates have not changed in the past decade in any region of the world. The impacts of conflict, climate change, COVID-19 are increasing risks for women and babies everywhere

The report includes updated estimates from WHO and UNICEF, prepared with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, on the prevalence of preterm births. Overall, it finds that preterm birth rates have not changed in any region in the world in the past decade, with 152 million vulnerable babies born too soon from 2010 to 2020.

Preterm birth is now the leading cause of child deaths, accounting for more than 1 in 5 of all deaths of children occurring before theire 5th birthday. Preterm survivors can face lifelong health consequences, with an increased likelihood of disability and developmental delays.