Survey reveals misconceptions about premature birth
3 September 2004
New research out today reveals a surprisingly low level of knowledge about premature birth in the UK.
The survey, commissioned by Mothercare in support of Action Medical Research's ‘Touching Tiny Lives’ campaign, revealed that premature birth is considered to be a much rarer occurrence than it actually is. The survey showed that half of all British women believe that only 1% or less of babies are born prematurely. In fact, a baby is born prematurely every 11 minutes, making up approximately 10% of all births in Britain. Around 130 babies are born prematurely in the UK every day.
The survey also discovered that millions of British women believe premature labour simply won’t happen to them, leading to 88% of mothers failing to read up on the subject while pregnant.
The research highlighted that women held a series of worrying misconceptions about premature birth:
· One in five think that doctors can virtually always pre-diagnose premature births, this is untrue. A further quarter (28%) of those surveyed had no idea whether this was true or false
· One third also wrongly believe that doctors can usually stop premature labour
· Almost one in ten believe premature birth only happens when people have done something wrong to trigger it e.g. smoking during pregnancy or having had an accident. This can lead to mothers blaming themselves for something that is not their fault
· Almost one in ten incorrectly assume that premature birth is mostly genetic and runs in the family
Health expert, Dr Dawn Harper (MBBS DCH MRCP DFFP), commissioned by Mothercare to comment on the finds says:
"This lack of knowledge about the issues surrounding premature birth in the UK does give cause for concern. Being mentally prepared for the possibility of having a premature baby can aid both the health of the mother and the development of the baby if the child does arrive early."
"Prior knowledge of the facts about premature birth can help the mother and father deal with the stress of the situation. This can in turn have benefits for the child. Parental interaction and stimulation can reduce the chance of premature babies having language or learning difficulties later in life."
Mothercare is supporting Action Medical Research’s Touching Tiny Lives campaign to raise awareness and help fund research into premature birth and other serious conditions which threaten babies and expectant mothers. It is also donating £3** to the Touching Tiny Lives campaign from every ten-piece pack sold from its premature baby clothing line.
Dr Tracy Swinfield, Director of Research for Action Medical Research added, “We want to raise £3 million through the Touching Tiny Lives campaign to help sick babies. Thanks to advances in medical research, as many as 80-85% of babies born weighing less than 1000gms (2.2lbs) now survive in the UK. There is great potential for more breakthroughs in the future. But not enough money goes into investigating the causes of premature birth and conditions affecting the most vulnerable babies.”
Research commissioned by Mothercare was conducted by an independent YouGov poll amongst 2,000 people in the UK in August 2004
Touching Tiny Lives
Touching Tiny Lives is the new campaign from Action Medical Research. The Charity is raising urgently needed funds for more research to find answers to premature birth, pre-eclampsia and other serious conditions which threaten babies and expectant mothers to ensure that all babies, especially babies born prematurely, grow up healthy.
**£3 including VAT is paid to: Action Medical Research (Trading Ltd) which covenants all its taxable profits to Action Medical Research, a registered charity number 208701.
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