Boys are more prone to premature birth than girls, according to a new research.
Born before terms, the research also finds, boys are also more vulnerable to death and suffering than girls.
The paediatric research published in the journal ‘Nature’ shows that boys are 14 percent more likely to be born preterm than girls.
These premature babies suffer from learning problems and blindness to deafness and neuro-development disorders like cerebral palsy.
The United Nations Children Fund and international NGO Save the Children called the new findings ‘groundbreaking’ in a joint statement.
“Baby boys have a higher likelihood of infections, jaundice, birth complications, and congenital conditions but the biggest risk for baby boys is due to preterm birth,” Prof Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was the team leader of the new research, said.
A group of 50 researchers from 35 different institutions across the world carried out the research.
They analyse different newborn conditions as estimated 13 million babies globally survive beyond the first month of their life every year out of the total 15.1 million preterm babies.
“For two babies born at the same degree of prematurity, a boy will have a higher risk of death and disability compared to a girl,” Lawn said.
“Even in the womb, girls mature more rapidly than boys, which provides an advantage, because the lungs and other organs are more developed.
“One partial explanation for more preterm births among boys is that women pregnant with a boy are more likely to have placental problems, preeclampsia, and high blood pressure, all associated with preterm births,” Lawn explained.
However, after the first month of life, in some societies where girls receive less nutrition and medical care, the girls are more likely to die than boys, despite this biological survival advantage for girls.
Premature birth is also a challenge in Bangladesh where it accounts for 45 percent of all under-1 month deaths.
Bangladesh had cut newborn deaths to almost double the regional and global averages last decade and achieved Millennium Development Goal on under-5 child deaths.
But experts warn rising number of premature births could frustrate the success this decade.
Statistics show at least one out of 10 infants is born weeks before the expected date of delivery on completion of 37 weeks of pregnancy in Bangladesh, and with less than 2.5 kilogram of weight.
The recent ‘World prematurity Day-Country Data’ showed that estimated 237,100 premature boys were born in Bangladesh last year compared to 198,400 girls.
These babies are usually born with underdeveloped organs, which lead to many other short- and long-term complications.
They die of infections and many other complications as their immune system is incapable of fighting various germs.
The Unicef and the Save the Children, however, said the issue was not getting adequate priority when it comes to funding on child health.
In a joint statement, they said, in the last three years, globally $25 billion new funds have been spent on maternal, newborn and child health.
Low- and middle-income countries, as well as private foundations, non-government organizations, and the private sector have raised about 40 percent of the funds.
But less than 1 percent is specifically directed at premature or newborn care, according to the joint statement issued on World Prematurity Day observed on Sunday.
Bangladesh, however, adopted some “proven and low-cost” solutions to cut premature deaths.
In July this year, the government declared its commitment to scale-up affordable interventions like Kangaroo mother care management for premature babies in which babies are kept in direct contact of their mother.
The government will also provide ‘corticosteroid’ to the pregnant mother with impending premature deliveries to reduce their babies’ complications.