In Cyprus, every year 9,000 - 10,000 babies are born. Cyprus is the first country in Europe with the most premature babies with a rate of 11,1% followed by Greece. In the rest of the European countries, the preterm birth rate is 8,7%.
There are still some unknown causes of prematurity. However, there are some predisposing factors that are likely to lead to premature birth, the most important of which are the following:
- Illnesses of the mother.
- Complications during pregnancy.
- Bad obstetric history of the mother.
- Multiple pregnancies.
- Genetic causes.
- Various aggravating factors, such as the age of the mother, smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
In the scientific community, newborns who are born before the 37th week of pregnancy are called premature (or pre-term). Prematurity is the number one cause of newborn deaths. Their chances of survival depend on the degree of prematurity, the cause, the intrauterine conditions, the proper management during labor and transfer to the NICU, and the appropriate support by trained personnel in the right environment.
In some cases, prematurity causes very significant problems for the neonate. However, the most problems are overcome along with the age-related maturation of the infant. The most common of these problems are respiratory distress, brain immaturity and hemorrhagic disposition, gastrointestinal disorders, anemia, organ immaturity, immature immune defenses and infections, and thermoregulatory disorders.
Every parent awaits the birth of their child with joy and great impatience. However, its birth -when it comes earlier than expected – and its hospitalization in an Intensive Care Unit, is certainly not what the parents imagined for such a special moment. Thus, the setting of their child’s birth changes. Parents now have the need to be constantly close to their babies, to continuously monitor their development, to caress them, hold them, talk to them, tell them that everything shall be fine, how much they love them and how they cannot wait to take them home, in its own room that they have prepared with so much love.
And the baby, so small yet faced with a disproportionally large challenge in its beginning in life, is at the same time in such a need of this caress, affection and warm embrace. It needs to fell the breath of their mom, to hear dad’s voice, to feel the warmth and safety of its people’s arms, so that it can win its first test in the world. This way, it gives strength to its parents as it makes them feel that, even though it was born early, it has stubbornness and a will to live. Because it is a fighter of life.