In Western Australia, more than 3,000 babies are born too soon – approximately 1 in 12 pregnancies ends preterm. This rate is more than double amongst Aboriginal and disadvantaged communities.
In November 2014, the Women and Infants Research Foundation launched the Western Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Initiative.
Also known as The Whole Nine Months, this unique statewide program aimed to safely lower the rate of early birth, saving lives and preventing lifelong disability.
The Initiative incorporated three distinct components which were underpinned by the introduction of new clinical guidelines:
- Statewide obstetric outreach and health professional advice
- The Whole Nine Months public health and social media campaign
- The Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic at King Edward Memorial Hospital.
Western Australia has now hosted the world’s first successful state-wide program designed to safely reduce the rate of preterm birth across a state. In 2015, which was the first full year of operation, the Initiative reduced the rate of early birth across our state by nearly 8%.
The real face of this reduction is that almost 200 women were prevented from having a preterm birth; safe from the prospect of long-term care and permanent disability for their child as well as the heartache and financial burden associated with it.
It is also the first program in the world to have safely lowered the rate of preterm birth across the gestational age spectrum, including births as early as the 28-31 week category.