Today, for Prematurity Awareness Month and Medical Monday, I’d like to share a personal rant.
Each October, stores are flooded with pink ribbon merchandise. Newspapers, magazines, websites, even grocery store ads, manage to “think pink.” According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.7% of women, or 1 in 8, will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This is almost exactly the same as the preterm birth rate, yet the amount of media and fundraising attention given to prematurity is almost nonexistent in comparison.
Did you know that:
1 in 8 babies born in the US are premature.
That means that in 2006 542,893 babies were born premature. That is 12.8% of live births (data from Peristats).
That equals 10,440 babies born preterm every week, and 45,250 babies born too soon this month alone
13 babies will die today because they were born too soon
According to the CDC, the preterm birth rate has increased more than 20% since 1990.
In 2005, preterm birth cost the United States at least $26.2 billion, or $51,600 for every infant born preterm.
Direct health care costs to employers for a premature baby average $41,610 —15 times higher than the $2,830 for a healthy, full-term delivery.
This figure does not include the cost of lost productivity that results from preterm birth.
Prematurity is NOT a small or insignificant problem.
Prematurity kills, disables and causes lifelong medical problems.
Prematurity causes PTSD and increased rates of postpartum depression in mothers.
Prematurity has a devastating economic impact on families.
So, what are should we doing differently? How do we raise awareness of prematurity to the level it deserves – the same level as causes like breast cancer?
And just in case you’re wondering, I don’t think there should be any less attention given to worthy causes like breast cancer awareness. I just want to do something to raise prematurity awareness to that same level!