Nelly Jacobo According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2015), a premature infant is defined as one who is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. The incidence of premature birth is significant, with one in every fifteen infants being born prematurely. This is a concerning statistic, particularly for African American women, as they have a 50% higher risk of giving birth to a premature infant compared to white women.
Premature infants face numerous health challenges due to their early arrival. One of the most common issues they encounter is respiratory problems, as their lungs may not be fully developed. Additionally, premature infants are at a higher risk of experiencing various health complications, which can lead to increased mortality rates. The impact of premature birth on society is staggering, as highlighted by a study reported in 2015, estimating that there are 15 million premature births globally, with one million of these resulting in infant death (March of Dimes, 2015).
The care required for premature infants can be extensive and costly. The average cost of caring for a premature infant is approximately $54,194 (March of Dimes, 2015). This cost includes critical care interventions such as respiratory support, medications, and, in some cases, surgical procedures. These interventions not only place a financial burden on families but also create emotional stress due to the unpreparedness, long hospital stays, and fears of mortality.
In order to address these challenges, organizations like COPE (Caring for Premature Infants and their Families) have been established to provide support and resources for families. The aim of COPE is to help families gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence to improve caregiving abilities and therefore enhance the outcomes for premature infants. Families can access COPE through their website, www.copeforhope.com. Despite the availability of such support services, it is unfortunate that not many families take advantage of them.
The high cost of caring for premature infants combined with the stressful situations it creates for family members emphasizes the need for support. By accessing the necessary support, families can improve the outcomes for their infants and better cope with the difficulties they face. Education plays a vital role in caring for premature infants and reducing mortality rates.
In conclusion, premature birth is a significant public health issue, with a higher prevalence among African American women. Premature infants face numerous health challenges, including respiratory problems and increased mortality rates. Providing adequate support and education to families is crucial in improving outcomes for premature infants and helping families cope with the associated stress. Despite the availability of supportive services, many families do not take advantage of them. The cost of caring for premature infants is high, which further highlights the importance of accessing support to alleviate financial and emotional burdens. Ultimately, reducing the incidence of premature birth and improving care for premature infants requires a comprehensive approach involving healthcare providers, public health initiatives, and community support services.