PRETERM BIRTHS

[PHOTOS] Born too soon: Efforts to save preterm babies

Methods deployed include promotion of kangaroo care and setting up of more newborn units

In Summary

•Health stakeholders are making concerted efforts to enhance child survival.

•According to the Ministry of Health, at least 134,600 babies are born preterm in Kenya, with the country recording 362 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births.

A mother holds a newborn by the feet at Bungoma Kangaroo Mother Care Centre
A mother holds a newborn by the feet at Bungoma Kangaroo Mother Care Centre
Image: ENOS TECHE

Preterm birth is a major cause of prenatal mortality in Kenya and across the globe. Health stakeholders are making concerted efforts to enhance child survival.

A mother wraps her baby in exercise of skin-to-skin contact at the Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Webuye District Hospital
A mother wraps her baby in exercise of skin-to-skin contact at the Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Webuye District Hospital
Image: ENOS TECHE

According to the Ministry of Health, at least 134,600 babies are born preterm in Kenya, with the country recording 362 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births.

However, a lot has been done across counties to reduce preterm mortality.

Women lie down in a position with their newborn wrapped in skin-to-skin position at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Bungoma County Referral Hospital
Women lie down in a position with their newborn wrapped in skin-to-skin position at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Bungoma County Referral Hospital
Image: ENOS TECHE

A tour of the Western counties of Bungoma and Busia shows all that is needed is goodwill and the dissemination of proper information to expectant mothers on how well they can ensure both lives of the mother and the newborns are saved.

Winrose Ochieng and her husband Kizito Khisa pose with their four months old twins, who were born prematurely. Their weight has normalised after being taken through the Kangaroo care phases.
Winrose Ochieng and her husband Kizito Khisa pose with their four months old twins, who were born prematurely. Their weight has normalised after being taken through the Kangaroo care phases.
Image: ENOS TECHE
Evelyn Oduor gestures with her newborn at Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Bungoma County Referral Hospital.
Evelyn Oduor gestures with her newborn at Kangaroo Mother Care Centre in Bungoma County Referral Hospital.
Image: ENOS TECHE

For instance, in Busia and Bungoma Teaching and Referral Hospitals, a partnership between the county governments and a non-governmental organization Save the Children, ensured more than 6,000 preterm babies were saved since 2014.

A Newborn Unit nursing officer holds Vitamin D complex, a supplement used orally to improve preterm babies, who are prone to developing rickets because they are born before their bones are fully mature
A Newborn Unit nursing officer holds Vitamin D complex, a supplement used orally to improve preterm babies, who are prone to developing rickets because they are born before their bones are fully mature
Image: ENOS TECHE

This has been facilitated by training health workers on how best to teach mothers with preterm babies on the practice of kangaroo care as well as the establishment of more NBU and NICU facilities to cater to preterm babies.

A doctor checks the head circumference of a newborn at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre using a measurement tape at Bungoma County Referral Hospital
A doctor checks the head circumference of a newborn at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre using a measurement tape at Bungoma County Referral Hospital
Image: ENOS TECHE

Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby in skin-to-skin contact. This happens when a baby who is naked is placed in an upright position against a parent's bare chest. This practice is effective for use for both mother and father with premature infants while still within a health facility.

Rose Victoria reacts while holding her infant born preterm at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre.
Rose Victoria reacts while holding her infant born preterm at a Kangaroo Mother Care Centre.
Image: ENOS TECHE

Kangaroo care practice was developed to take of premature babies in places with limited access to incubators.     

A doctor uses stethoscope to check the health of a preterm baby under Newborn Unit
A doctor uses stethoscope to check the health of a preterm baby under Newborn Unit
Image: ENOS TECHE

Kizito Khisa and Winrose Ochieng are a couple with preterm babies. They praised kangaroo care as it saved their children's life.

A mother checks on her newborn baby girl with eyes covered, undergoing light therapy due to jaundice through a process called called phototherapy
A mother checks on her newborn baby girl with eyes covered, undergoing light therapy due to jaundice through a process called called phototherapy
Image: ENOS TECHE
A Newborn Unit at the Webuye District Referral Hospital
A Newborn Unit at the Webuye District Referral Hospital
Image: ENOS TECHE

Kizito said his twins were born with 1.3kg and 1.6kg respectively. Their health improved significantly after they were both introduced to kangaroo care.

A nurse carries a tray with Ranferon, a blood booster supplement, and Vit D 3, which prevents rickets for preterm babies
A nurse carries a tray with Ranferon, a blood booster supplement, and Vit D 3, which prevents rickets for preterm babies
Image: ENOS TECHE

"After practising it for a month, I can attest that there was significant improvement in breathing pattern as well as weight gain. Our babies showed an improvement in kilogrammes of up to 1.8 and 2.1kg respectively. We thank God it has been three months now, they weigh 5.2 and 5.4kg."

A mother refills a nasogastric tube used to feeding newborns under the incubation care at the Webuye District Hospital in Bungoma county
A mother refills a nasogastric tube used to feeding newborns under the incubation care at the Webuye District Hospital in Bungoma county
Image: ENOS TECHE

Here are photos documenting the care of preterm babies and the transition from incubators to kangaroo mother care practice. They are taken in dedicated Mother-Newborn Intensive Care Units at health facilities in the counties of Bungoma and Busia. 

A woman holds nasogastric intubatation while feeding her infant with expressed milk under the incubator at the Webuye District Hospital
A woman holds nasogastric intubatation while feeding her infant with expressed milk under the incubator at the Webuye District Hospital
Image: ENOS TECHE
Busia County Referral Hospital. Through a partnership with Save the Children, a room was established for Kangaroo Mother Care Centre.
Busia County Referral Hospital. Through a partnership with Save the Children, a room was established for Kangaroo Mother Care Centre.
Image: ENOS TECHE