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UP hospitals to fight infant mortality with mom’s magic touch

At the government-run Veerangana Avanti Bai Women’s Hospital in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, mothers are quietly nurturing their premature infants through their touch. With music in the background, the skin-to-skin contact or Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) between the mother and the baby works to ensure the survival of these babies.

This simple intervention .has the potential to reduce 1 million infant deaths globally every year, according to estimates. It is .recommended by The World Health Organization (WHO) for the routine care of newborns weighing 2000 grams or less at birth, KMC is one of the  powerful yet simple interventions for caring of  low-birth-weight infants. KMC has been shown to decrease mortality and morbidity in preterm and low birthweight infants by providing protection from infection; regulating temperature, breathing, and brain activity; and encouraging mother-baby bonding

Low birthweight (LBW) is closely associated with foetal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. A baby’s weight at birth is a strong indicator of maternal and newborn health and nutrition. Being undernourished in the womb increases the risk of death in the early months and years of a child’s life. Those who survive tend to have impaired immune function and increased risk of disease; they are likely to remain undernourished, with reduced muscle strength, cognitive abilities and IQ throughout their lives. As adults, they suffer a higher incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

The prevalence of LBW is reported higher in Asia than elsewhere, predominantly because of undernutrition of the mother prior to and during pregnancy.South Asia has the highest incidence of low birth weight i.e., 27% accounting for more than half of LBW infants born in the world. India has highest number of low birth weight babies each year i.e 7.4 million and percentage of infants with low birth weight is 28%.

Nearly half the pregnant women still suffer from varying degree of anaemia, with the highest prevalence in India, which also has the highest number of maternal deaths in the Asian region.

To read more, about the crucial link between maternal nutrition and low birth weight babies, click here.

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