World Prematurity Day (2016)

FIGO’s overall goal is to improve the health and wellbeing of women and newborn children worldwide. Therefore we are committed to the achievement of the new global Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 3.2 that focuses on ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age.

healty newborn baby

On World Prematurity Day 2016 Professor CN Purandare, FIGO President, said:

"There is no doubt that preterm birth is a critical area of concern with regard to newborn, infant and child health - every year, 15 million babies are born preterm. Complications of preterm birth constitute the leading cause of death among children under five years. It is sobering that three-quarters of those affected could be saved with accessible, cost-effective interventions such as the administration of corticosteroids, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and Kangaroo Mother Care, as examples.

FIGO is therefore committed to preventive strategies, which include family planning to increase birth spacing, and increased empowerment of women; improved quality of care before, between and during pregnancy; prevention and screening/management of STIs; education and health promotion for girls and women; promotion of environmental risks such as indoor air pollution; screening and management of pregnant women at highest risk of preterm birth, eg, those with multiple pregnancies, diabetes and high blood pressure; and aggressive management when prior preterm birth has occurred.

FIGO has forged a valuable alliance with March of Dimes to look into the causes of and strategies to reduce the burden of preterm birth: the FIGO Working Group on Preterm Birth. Our jointly conducted epidemiological research is looking into major factors and associations that may help to focus on specific issues for research and clinical action. This Working Group recently reported that 2/3 of preterm births are characterised by no known biological basis, even if associated risk factors may exist. We must increase attention and research that elucidates the underlying basis of preterm birth. It is this knowledge that can lead to the novel interventions that reduce the preterm birth rate further. To ensure this translation, the FIGO Working Group on Good Clinical Practice in Maternal-Foetal Medicine is closely following the advances in this area.

FIGO is also committed to encouraging collaborative action between obstetricians, midwives and paediatricians in managing preterm birth. This is illustrated through FIGO’s joint project with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the International Pediatric Association (IPA) - “Improving the Quality of Maternal and Newborn Healthcare Services Through Accelerated Implementation of the Essential Interventions by the Healthcare Professionals’ Associations”.