As a charity dedicated to helping premature babies, critically ill children and their families, celebrating Prematurity Day on 17th November is always an important date for our diaries.
This internationally recognised day was first initiated by the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) to raise awareness around the many challenges of early births. We’re proud to represent Guernsey as part of this event and, across the water, we continue to support little ones who may be required to travel to Southampton Hospital for specialist care. Our compassionate housing next to the city’s Neonatal Unit acts as a lifeline for families who find themselves in these difficult circumstances.
Whether you’ve been following World Prematurity Day over the years, or you’re discovering it for the first time, here are some top 5 facts about the celebrations:
Purple is the official colour for World Prematurity Day. It represents sensitivity and exceptionality. On 17th November you will see purple cropping up everywhere from city landmarks turning purple and coloured ribbons, to purple cupcakes, outfits, fundraising parties and social media takeovers. Here in Guernsey, a landmark will be lit up in purple for one night only – keep your eyes peeled (and your cameras handy) if you’ll be heading along the west coast this Thursday.
You might be wondering, why does this event happen on 17th November? On this day, one of the founding members of the EFCNI became a father to a little girl, after tragically losing triplets to preterm birth. The date therefore carries a great deal of emotional significance as it signals hope, and new beginnings. Since 2009, the month of November has continued to facilitate awareness raising for the millions of children and family members affected by preterm births every year.
We’re so grateful to the Guernsey Neonatal Unit whose staff celebrate World Prematurity Day every year.
Every year, World Prematurity Day has a different theme. This year’s theme is: ‘A Parent’s Embrace: A Powerful Therapy’ which is all about one of the most powerful treatments in newborn care: skin-to-skin contact with a parent. Also known as ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ this therapy is simple but effective. It improves thermal regulation, assists with infection prevention, improves breastmilk production, facilitates positive neurodevelopmental effects, promotes bonding and even reduces the risk of neonatal mortality by 40%. This year’s event is promoting the use of life-saving practices that are simple but beneficial to both baby and parent. You can read more about ‘Kangaroo Mother Care’ research here, from experts in Norway, and learn more through this Q&A video with paediatrician, founder and director of the Kangaroo Foundation Nathalie Charpak.
One of the main messages that comes from World Prematurity Day is a statistic that you may find surprising. Every year, over 10% of the 130 million babies worldwide are born too early. This is around 1 in 10 babies and preterm birth is a leading cause of death in children under 5 years old. Preterm babies may also be at a higher risk of developing a wide range of health problems. This highlights the vital nature of the work carried out by healthcare systems and charities if we are to give our tiny humans the best possible start to a healthy and happy life. This 1 in 10 statistic is illustrated by the EFCNI’s purple socks line graphic.
This year, the EFCNI is advocating for more parental involvement in neonatal care so that parents can feel confident and supported. Separation practices can cause a great deal of distress, and one of the ways we try to minimise this is through our compassionate housing in Southampton, if off-island care for a child is required. Our two properties, Aggie’s Burrow and Isaac’s Pad, are right next door to the city’s neonatal unit, meaning that a parent can be by their little one’s side in a matter of minutes. As part of our involvement in World Prematurity Day, we will be reminding the community why continuing to raise funds for the maintenance of these flats is so important.
Isaac’s Pad, one of our private and cosy flats for Guernsey families to call home.