Children born too soon (preterm) or too small are at the highest risk of dying in utero, during birth and in the neonatal period, and also have increased health and development risks throughout their lifetime. Of the 2.5 million neonatal deaths in 2018, over 80% were born too small–of which two thirds are preterm and one third are small for gestational age (SGA).
Quantifying the full burden of affected children born too soon or too small or both is critical for health system response and planning. Estimates of the global, regional and national burden of preterm birth and LBW are especially needed because data for both are sparse and incomplete in many countries. In the past year, The Lancet Global Health has published two new sets of estimates – preterm birth and low birthweight (see facts about each below).
Estimates allow health system stakeholders, policies, and programmes to be better informed, enabling more precise targeting of interventions. Estimates can also be used to raise awareness of the issues as global public health priorities, and can help mobilise resources for research and maternal and child health programs. They also allow for comparison between countries or between countries and regions. Learn more about how estimates can be used at global and national levels here.
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