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World Prematurity Day, November 17th 2018

World Prematurity Day, November 17th 2018

World Prematurity Day

Sarah Collins, Charity Director at First Touch, who support sick & premature babies at St George's, with information about World Prematurity Day. taking place this Saturday.

According to The World Health Organisation in February 2018, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm each year (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising. Premature birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.

World Prematurity Day is a global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the devastating impact it can have on families. It is held each year on November 17th.

At First Touch, we will be marking World Prematurity Day by giving presents to all babies at the neonatal unit with an exhibition on Kangaroo Care in the main entrance of the hospital on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November. It will feature photographs by award winning photographer Jan Podsiadly, all taken at the neonatal unit in Tooting. The exhibition is free and open to all visitors to the hospital.

Kangaroo Care involves a baby nestling in a “kangaroo” position on their mum or dad’s chest, giving skin-to-skin contact. The phrase “kangaroo care” was termed for its similarities to how marsupials carry their young. Skin-to-skin care simulates the protective and nurturing environment of a kangaroo pouch. Kangaroo care promotes mental and physical health and wellbeing both to babies and parents.

The exhibition ties in with First Touch's current fundraising campaign to fund 20 special reclining chairs for St George's Hospital. These chairs are specifically designed to allow parents to give 'kangaroo care' to their sick and premature babies. Thanks to generous supporters, we have already reached 50% of our £28,000 target. The chairs are mobile and fully reclinable so that parents can hold babies in 'skin to skin' care by their incubator or cot for a prolonged period without becoming uncomfortable.
1 in 10 babies worldwide is born prematurely. At St George's we care for around 600 babies each year. Not all of these are premature, as the neonatal unit is also a specialist centre for new-born surgery. As a level 3 unit with Intensive Care facilities, the staff at St George's take transfers of the sickest and tiniest babies from other hospitals.

My baby was born 3 months early, and I remember so well the wonderful feeling of being able to hold her for the very first time. Nurses carefully took Izzy out of her incubator, attached to breathing apparatus and feeding tubes, and placed her in my arms. It was the first time in over two weeks that I had been able to hold her, and the cuddle reinforced that this tiny little being was my daughter, and it helped enormously with bonding. It was a few years ago and these wonderful chairs were not available then. These reclining chairs will be a brilliant addition to the neonatal unit, and will be hugely appreciated by mums and dads.

Dr Sandy Calvert, Consultant Neonatalogist at St George's and a trustee of First Touch charity says, “Having seen so much successful kangaroo care in Vietnam, I am convinced of its benefits.”

World Prematurity Day celebrations will be taking place across the country and across the world. Look out for landmarks turning purple to mark this important day, and wear purple yourself to honour the special babies.

To donate to the Kangaroo Care Chair Appeal please go to: 

To find out more, please visit our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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