World Prematurity Day: A Parent’s embrace


This day aims to raise awareness for the challenges of preterm birth and shine a light on the risks and consequences faced by preterm infants and their families worldwide.

  • Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five; each year, about 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, that is about 1 in 10 children 1
  • Kangaroo Mother Care is a skin-to-skin intervention that allows the mother to take a central role in her own and her baby’s care, thereby reversing the shift of power between the mother and the health providers or health systems while providing numerous benefits to the child
  • Skin-to-skin care has valuable benefits between the father and baby, including bonding

This year for World Prematurity Day, we’re raising awareness about Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) with the global call to action “A Parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy, enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth.” KMC is the care of preterm or low birth weight infants in continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother or father. The benefits of KMC from the moment of birth for both the infant and the mother include improved thermal regulation, infection prevention, breastmilk let-down, positive facilitation of physiological, behavioural, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects, and a reduced risk of neonatal mortality by 40%.

Despite the benefits of skin-to-skin care for preterm/underweight infants, implementing KMC as a practice has been a persistent challenge globally. Only a few countries have successfully standardised skin-to-skin care, making it unavailable to many families. Many healthcare systems need to translate this evidence into policy and practice, which requires a paradigm shift in the ‘classical’ newborn unit care model, which separates the mother and baby especially if the baby is born too small or too sick.

With KMC, we present a vision where mothers, newborns, and families form an inseparable centre around which the entire maternal newborn service delivery is organised. World Prematurity Day aims to raise awareness for the challenges surrounding preterm birth and to educate people about risks and consequences. We hope to improve early detection during pregnancy, to promote innovative medical treatment options, to empower mothers and fathers in their roles, and to significantly reduce long-term consequences for children and their families.
As in previous years, countless individuals, hospitals, NGOs, parent groups, and governmental institutions are participating in World Prematurity Day activities in about 100 countries this week to raise awareness and spur action to prevent preterm birth where possible, improve healthcare systems, and save babies’ lives.

[1] World Health Organization, Children: reducing mortality, 19. September 2020,
Children: improving survival and well-being ( (15.09.2022).