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The number of mothers who have given birth pre-term (before 37 weeks) has decreased significantly this year. According to one evaluation, there were fewer babies born extremely early (prior to 28 weeks) during Denmark’s complete lockdown in the Spring compared to the last five years. A similar phenomenon happened in Ireland, where there was a 73% decrease in the number of premature babies born in the first 4 months of 2020. It is estimated that 15 million babies are born pre-term each year and pre-term birth complications are the leading cause of death in children under the age of five. The findings have prompted much attention within the research community, keen to discover the potential cause of the decrease. While there is no singular reason for this decrease, the Royal College of Midwives in the UK says the pandemic has shaped many women’s pregnancies this year, and sometimes for the better. Additional hand washing, social distancing and even an increase in rest for mothers-to-be are all thought to contribute to the significant increase in full-term birth.

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