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What is World Prematurity Day?

Every year on 17 November, World Prematurity Day is observed across the globe. It is a day to raise awareness about preterm birth and the challenges and burden related to the issue.

Preterm birth happens when the baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy is over. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 15 million preterm births occur globally each year. The issue is one of the leading causes of death for children below the age of five years, with over one million babies dying due to this in 2015.

The colour purple stands for uniqueness and sensitivity, so the socks line has become a symbol for World Prematurity Day. To symbolise that one in 10 babies is born preterm, a small pair of purple socks which is framed by nine full-size baby socks is used.

Theme: This year the theme of World Prematurity Day is “Zero Separation Act now! Keep parents and babies born too soon together.”


The European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI), based in Munich, Germany, and its partnering European parent organisations initiated World Prematurity Day in 2008. After the inclusion of international co-founders LittleBigSouls (Africa), National Premmie Foundation (Australia) and March of Dimes (USA), this special day became an intercontinental movement.

How is the day celebrated?

On World Prematurity Day, people across the world, groups and organisations from more than 100 countries come together and join forces to organise special activities, events and most importantly commit to action that would help in addressing the issue of preterm birth. These organisations also support improving the situation of preterm babies and their families.


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