Department of Population Health Sciences

Born just a few weeks early: Does it matter?

  • 17 November 2023, 5.00pm-6.00pm
  • George Davies Centre, University of Leicester

An event to mark World Prematurity Day 2023 

This event is for all students, staff, professionals - everyone welcome (and in particular those affected by prematurity).

On 17 November each year, organisations and individuals throughout the world unite to mark World Prematurity Day, to raise awareness of preterm birth and the lifelong impact it can have on children and families.

Each year, around 15 million babies are born preterm – before 37 weeks of pregnancy – worldwide. In the UK alone, around 60,000 babies are born preterm each year.

Improvements in maternity and newborn care mean that more preterm babies are now surviving than ever before. However, as they grow up, some of these babies are at higher risk for later health and developmental problems than babies who were born after a full term pregnancy. Most research into preterm birth has focused on the smallest, sickest, babies who are born extremely preterm – before 28 weeks of pregnancy – but the number of these babies is relatively small.

Leicester has high rates of preterm birth compared with the rest of England, but in 2022, only 150 of these were extremely preterm.  In comparison, almost 3000 babies were born in the city between 2 and 6 weeks early – these are known as late preterm and early term babies. Although many have no or few problems and do very well, a significant proportion will go on to have difficulties with their health, development and education. Because there are so many babies born at this stage of pregnancy, this is extremely important for the children themselves, families, health care, social care and educational services.

The Leicester City Football Club (LCFC) Professorship was established following a generous donation from the LCFC to the University of Leicester, with the aim of developing research to improve the health of future generations of Leicester’s children. The LCFC Programme of Research in Child Health is part of The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) research group at the University of Leicester. TIMMS has an internationally renowned reputation for carrying out research to improve survival and long-term outcomes for babies born preterm. 

Today’s event will raise awareness of the potential consequences of late preterm and early term birth for children and families. We will hear presentations from members of the LCFC Research Team about challenges for child health in Leicester and diverse and exciting new research that will be starting soon in the city, aiming to find out why some babies do better than others, and how we can try to improve experiences and outcomes for parents, babies, children and families in Leicester and beyond. 

In association with colleagues in The Infant Mortality and Morbidity Studies (TIMMS) research group, and on behalf of the University, we are lighting up the George Davies Centre in purple in support of World Prematurity Day.

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