Nigeria is third in the ranking of premature babies after India and China.

One in every 10 children is given birth to prematurely and a doctor has identified causes of preterm births that couples should avoid.

Dr. Chris Abumchi, is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and he says 800,000 babies are born prematurely every year in Nigeria.

Premature babies are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy and may experience more health challenges with need to stay longer in hospital than babies born later.

He listed violence among couples, smoking, alcohol consumption and drug abuse as some causes of preterm birth.

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Other causes of preterm birth include weakness of the neck of the womb whereby a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate before the pregnancy reaches full term.

“Multiple pregnancies, statistically 54% of twins are delivered preterm as opposed to 9.6% of singleton births while triplets and other multiple births are more endangered.

“Infections and chronic conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic influences and previous preterm births can as well predispose women to it,” he said.

There are usually warning signs and Dr. Abumchi identified them as contractions whereby the belly tightened every 10 minutes or more, change in vaginal discharge such as fluid or bleeding and belly cramps, among others.

The consultant advised women to seek early pre-natal care immediately they realised they had conceived to receive information on how to eat right, gain the proper weight and screen for infections.