Seventeen out of every 100 babies delivered in the country are born prematurely, with multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure as the main causes.
Any baby born before 8 months of pregnancy is a premature baby.
Mothers below 18 and those above 35 years of age are also at high risk of giving birth prematurely, according to Dr Fidel Ngabo, the Coordinator of Maternal and Child Health in the Ministry of Health.
In an interview with The New Times ahead of the Wolrd Prematurity Day today (November 17), Ngabo said premature babies are born before their body organs are fully developed to allow them function normally after delivery.
“Most premature births happen spontaneously, but some are due to early induction of labour or caesarean birth—whether for medical or non-medical reasons. Common causes of premature birth include multiple pregnancies, infections and chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure…,” Ngabo said.
Dr Samuel Kagali, a gynecologist at Kacyiru Police Hospital says that premature babies, especially those born at less than 25 weeks, often suffer complicated medical problems.
“Late premature birth is when a baby is born between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy and usually birth weight may range between 2-2.7kgs. Very premature babies are born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy and normally weigh between 1.5-2kgs and extremely premature babies are born at less than 25 weeks of pregnancy and they weigh less than 1kg,” Kagali says.
He advises expectant mothers to complete the four prenatal visits, avoid lifting heavy things and ensure good nutrition.