NMC Hospital Dubai, UAE
Each year 15 million babies are born preterm (<37 weeks of gestation (GA)) worldwide. Complications of prematurity are the single largest cause of neonatal mortality and the second leading cause of mortality among children under the age of 5. Over 1 million children die each year due to complications of prematurity. Mortality is inversely proportional to birth weight and GA. Advances in neonatal intensive care and during the last decades has decreased mortality in premature babies but morbidity (≥ Grade 3 intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacia, retinopathy of prematurity and chronic lung disease) is still high (20-50%), especially in extreme preterm babies. Recent data show that even moderate/late preterm children are also associated with significant adverse effects, including learning disability and cognitive problems. The major neurodevelopmental morbidities (mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, hydrocephalus, visual or auditory impairment) in extreme preterm babies occur in approximately 20-30% survivors. Preterm infants have a higher rate of rehospitalization (most frequently related to respiratory tract problems) than term infants, especially during the first two years of life. The successful introduction of evidence-based policies related to the interventions to improve prevention preterm birth and neonatal care could prevent or reduce the risk of potential complications of prematurity.