Preemies need special medical care in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. They stay there until their organ systems can work on their own.
According to World Health Organization, India tops the list of 10 countries with the greatest numbers of preterm births with an elephantine figure of 3,519,100 births a year. Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising.
Proper nutritional consumption and focus on the same for any kid is very important. On the eve of World Prematurity Day (November 17), the results of a survey conducted among mother of pre-term babies were released which calls for heightened focus on nutrition and the need for counselling of mothers with pre-term babies, equipping them to bring up healthier babies.
A new mother benefits from counselling on specialised nutrition for the baby and adequate guidance on physical and cognitive growth milestones to fully understand the growth patterns of a pre-term baby.
The quality of survival survey was conducted among more than 1,000 mothers across Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai to understand their concerns and aspirations for their babies.
Dr Bhupendra S Awasthi, Paediatrician, Founder and Managing Director, Surya Mother Childcare states, “Premature births in India are on the rise, but for mothers bringing up these children, it continues to be a solo struggle. As the survey highlights – awareness and timely counseling are two areas where mothers are constantly seeking help and advice.”
Some important concerns of the study were about feeding the pre-term babies. Pre-term babies are easily distracted while breast feeding, and have issues in latching on to mothers. Survey data showed babies depended mostly on alternative feeds, and mothers were uncertain on the quantum and frequency of feed for preemies till the age of two years.
The survey found that mothers who received adequate and relevant counseling at the NICU were four times more prepared to bring up a premature baby. They also actively sought information on feeding, nutrition and physical and mental development.
Commenting on the findings of the survey, Dr Umesh Vaidya, Regional Medical Director – Neonatology of Cloudnine said, “Bringing up premature babies is different from term babies – they have a different journey, they need extra attention on nutrition, nurture and care. Nutrition is the key to developing the brain and cognitive abilities in babies. While mothers notice physical milestones, tracking brain development is critical for premature babies.”
“We are optimistic our collective efforts will bridge the information gap and empower mothers to bring up healthier babies,” said Amal Kelshikar, Country Head and General Manager, Abbott’s nutrition business in India who conducted the survey.
Nearly 40 per cent of mothers have either received partial or no counselling on the impact of pre-term birth and management of nutrition, health and mental development of their pre-term babies and for themselves.
While almost all mothers surveyed were aware of physical and mental challenges which differentiate pre-term babies from full term babies, they were not sure what would help in matching the growth velocity.
Of the mothers surveyed, 93 per cent had experienced challenges in physical markers of growth such as weight gain and therefore sought information on the same proactively, while less than half of mothers considered brain development, cognition and motor skills as key development factors.
Incidence of fever, cold, low appetite and breathing issues are some of the key problems faced in first 12 months of their birth.
Only 24 percent of mothers are counseled on issues like dealing with stress and trauma.