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Mama i dzieckoUkraina

Ukraine: fewer births, more sick newborns

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3 minutes

Even less than a half are born during the war in Ukrainian hospitals assisted by Polish Medical Mission. In a survey conducted by the Polish organization in 10 neonatal facilities, they also indicated an increase in the number of pregnancy complications, premature birth, and diseases among newborns.

The survey was conducted in the second half of April, and the answers were provided by 10 Ukrainian neonatal institutions supported by the Polish Medical Mission. They include both facilities that are close to the front line (e.g. Kharkiv or Zaporozhye) and those that, thanks to a relatively safe situation, receive refugees from all over the country (Lviv). The hospitals shared information with the Polish organization about how their situation had changed since the start of the Russian invasion.

Most hospitals report a reduced number of deliveries compared to the times before the war – comments Milena Chodoła, coordinator of the neonatology project of Polish Medical Mission – Unfortunately, the number of pregnancy complications and premature births is increasing, which doctors cooperating with us associate with difficult access to antenatal care.

In the case of some facilities, the number of newborns drops drastically: the Mother and Child Center in Dnieper, in 2021, received 1,106 deliveries, to have 606 a year later. In the first quarter of 2023, only 90 children were born in the hospital. If this trend continues, it will mean a nearly 70% drop in births in just two years. The situation is better in places like Lviv, but the Regional Clinical Hospital there has also reported a decrease in births by almost a third compared to the time before the war.

Hospitals also report a higher percentage of premature births, as well as an increase in the number of pregnancy pathologies. For example, at the Institute of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology in Kiev, 82% of newborns had low and extremely low birth weight. Doctors also face a greater number of antenatal infections, which is related to the difficult monitoring of pregnancies in the areas bombed by Russia and the need for pregnant women to often hide in damp home basements, which serve as a shelter.

All hospitals report that during the last year they delivered deliveries in shelters, in some of them surgical operations were also performed – adds Milena. From time to time hospitals also have to switch to power generators due to interruptions in supplies current.

Understandably, however, medical facilities have different needs depending on how far they are from the front lines. When doctors from the hospital in Lviv talk about the need for training and continuous improvement of their competences, doctors from Zaporozhye ask first of all for supplies of medicines. All units unanimously report needs for equipment, from ultrasound machines and syringe dispensers to ventilators for newborns.

Polish Medical Mission has been helping Ukrainian hospitals since the beginning of the war. In over 130 medical transports, we provided them with, among others, specialist equipment, medicines and 5 equipped ambulances. As part of its projects, we also train Ukrainian medical personnel and conduct seminars on the rights of Ukrainian patients.

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