Adolescent pregnancy and malnutrition are the major reasons behind giving birth to premature children, said experts yesterday.
Therefore, mothers should be taken care of properly before and after pregnancy, and child marriages must be stopped, the experts added. A mother's good health is extremely important for giving birth to a healthy baby.
They also urged the families to provide premature children with proper support and care.
The experts also recommended that the mothers maintain a healthy lifestyle for controlling hypertension, diabetes and obesity, the other risk factors for preterm birth.
The recommendations were made at a roundtable organised by Bangla Daily Prothom Alo in association with Unicef Bangladesh at the newspaper's office in the capital.
“About 4,46,900 preterm babies are born in Bangladesh every year. The complexities that occur due to such births are responsible for causing 31 percent of total child deaths,” said Ziaul Matin, a health manager of Unicef, citing recent studies.
The country must take a strong initiative to resist premature birth, otherwise stopping child deaths as well as achieving Sustainable Development Goals would be difficult, he said in his keynote presentation.
Laila Arjumand Banu, president of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Bangladesh, said mothers should do check-ups before conception to detect whether they have diabetes or hypertension.
If they have those chronic diseases, they must be aware and follow doctors' instruction, she said. “Women in the country face discrimination from birth. If we want to prevent preterm birth, all of their nutritional needs have to be fulfilled.”
Tahmina Begum, president of Bangladesh Neonatal Forum, said children who survive preterm complexities have to face various physical and mental problems afterwards. Parents should take special care of them for their physical and mental growth.
Zahid Maleque, state minister for health and family welfare, said along with preventive measures, empowerment of women is a must so that they can become more aware and take steps if they face any birth-related problems.
Abdul Quayum, associate editor of Prothom Alo; Mohammad Sharif, a director of the Directorate General of Family Planning; Abdul Mannan, a professor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and Khaleda Islam, a director of the Directorate General of Health Services; also spoke.