Lockdown 'healthy living' has resulted in fewer premature babies being born
Turns out all those Joe Wicks workouts and Netflix-and-chilling we've all been doing are having some very positive effects on our collective health.
According to the University Maternity Hospital Limerick, one of the country’s largest maternity hospitals, the number of underweight babies born fell dramatically in the first four months of the year, a trend researchers believe is due to reduced stress and healthier lifestyles brought on by the lockdown.
In fact, a new study revealed that there has been a 73 percent reduction in the number of very low birth-weight babies born in the hospital, compared to the average for the same first four months of the year in the preceding two decades.
And the unprecedented” fall in preterm births is being credited to the effect of positive lifestyle influences during the Covid-19 restrictions we have all been subject to. According to lead study author Roy Philip, the unique conditions of the lockdown have almost been like 'nature's little experiment' and we are now seeing the results.
Philip explains the improvements in health the study revealed were due to a mix of self-imposed behavioural changes by mothers and externally imposed socio-environmental changes. These include reduced work; stress; commuting and financial strain; increased family support; reduced environmental pollution; better infection avoidance; improved sleep and nutritional support; adequate exercise; and reduced exposure to tobacco and illegal drugs.
What is even more amazing; if the same finding is replicated nationally for the first four months of the year, there could be up to 200 fewer very-low-weight births this year, and several hundred more if the effect were to last to the end of the year. As well as this, if the findings are reflected in other countries with a similar lockdown, this could trigger greater understanding of the poorly understood pathways that lead to pre-term birth (before 37 weeks of gestation), the authors say.
More than 15 million babies are born too early, too sick and too small in the world every year, and one million of these children die.