Approximately 12.9 million babies are born too soon every year throughout the world. The prevalence of pre-term birth in the United States alone has increased 36% in the past 25 years and North America (the U.S. and Canada) ranks 2nd in the world for incidences of prematurity. Each year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely, too soon, too sick, and struggling to survive in one of the hundreds of Neonatal Intensive Care Units (“NICU”) located throughout the United States alone. Premature births are increasing at an alarming rate.
On August 25, 2009, The New York Times reported on post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by parents of babies in the NICU. Both Duke University and Stanford University released reports that say parents of NICU infants experience multiple traumas that are termed “post-traumatic stress disorder”, the effects of which could last for years. Post-traumatic stress is most often associated with “surviving war, car accidents and assault”.
While numerous financial and medical resources are available for the premature baby, few exist to support the families as they move through the experience. The families and caregivers of these babies are unexpectedly launched into an emotional, physical and spiritual roller coaster with little guidance to help them navigate the scary, unpredictable world of ringing emergency bells and medical chaos. The emotional, financial and physical stress placed on these families is unimaginable. The Preemie Parents Foundation provides services and support that ensure that the parents will survive, even if their baby doesn’t.