17 Nov 2014

Pregnant women in Samoa urged to seek care early

1:40 pm on 17 November 2014

A doctor at Samoa's baby unit says women need to seek medical care early in their pregnancies to avoid the risks of premature delivery.

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Today is World Prematurity Day and Pediatric Registrar, Dr Litra Esera, says in Samoa babies born up to ten weeks early can be supported but up to half do not survive due to overwhelming infection.

She says it's important for pregnant women to book in with a doctor and not rely solely on traditional healers because there are many causes of prematurity.

"In Samoa we have quite a lot of unbooked mothers so infection is hard to rule out and so that must be the leading cause of prematurity in our setting, things like urinary tract infection in mums. As well as multiple pregnacies is the other one, we have quite a lot of premature twin deliveries, and we do lose some of them."

The World Health Organisation says pre-term birth is the world's largest killer of new-born babies, causing more than one million deaths each year, but 75 per cent could be saved without expensive, high technology care.