Premature birth is the first cause of infant death in Argentina. A preterm baby is born before the 37th week in a pregnancy. Most premature infants’ deaths occur during their first day or week as a result of perinatal complications.
Ana Quiroga, B.A.
Newborn Nursing Specialization Head
As part of the “Premature Infants’ Week”, a campaign organized by UNICEF that runs from Monday, November 14 through Friday, November 18, Ana Quiroga, B.A., Newborn Nursing Specialization Head at Universidad Austral’s School of Biomedical Sciences and technical advisor to the National Ministry of Health’s Newborn Area, outlined five key tenets to provide adequate care for preterm babies:
- Appropriate prenatal control, attention at delivery rooms and newborn care units provided by trained newborn care teams, with all the necessary materials and equipment.
- Safe, quality care to ensure survival with the fewest possible consequences.
- Family-centered service, so that family members can participate in the baby’s care and decision-making.
- Safeguarding infants’ brain development with overall care in order to avoid the stress caused by the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (UCIN, for its Spanish acronym) and the care provided.
- Nursing professionals specializing in newborn care and able to build adequate nurse-patient relationships.
From the overall number of babies born alive in Argentina (777,012, according to the latest data provided by the Department of Health Statistics and Information in 2014), 8.3% are born before the 37th week in the pregnancy, and 1.19% of them (9,240) are before the 32nd week. This is the group at greatest risk, and, in Argentina, their survival rate exceeds 60%, depending on location.
“Premature infants have the right to be born in a place with the greatest possible expertise in their care, with all the necessary resources,” noted Quiroga.
The causes for premature birth are not fully established, “but it is possible to determine the risk based on mothers’ backgrounds and whether they have pregnancy complications that can be treated,” Quiroga added.
In this regard, the head of this specialization program at Universidad Austral stated, “prenatal care and regular pregnancy controls, as well as proper care at delivery rooms and newborn departments’ special care can all reduce premature birth rates.”