BBC: Premature babies fight for their lives in bombed Ukrainian cities

Updates: 05.04.2022 09:02

Kyiv – Doctors in Ukraine, where the Russian invasion continues for the second straight month, are seeing a sharp rise in the number of premature births. Maternities in Kharkov and Lviv say their numbers have doubled or tripled in recent weeks due to stress and health problems for pregnant women, British public broadcaster BBC wrote on its website.

Polina was born in the Kharkiv regional maternity hospital with a birth weight of 630 grams. On average, girls born on time weigh five times more. Victoria, born in early March in a maternity hospital in Lviv, where her mother fled kyiv, weighed 800 grams. The weight hand of the girl, who still has a twin sister, recently exceeded one kilogram.

The fate of these girls, one a refugee and the other struggling for life in a city bombarded by the Russian army, shows what their mothers and the doctors in their care must decide.

Iryna Kondratová, a nurse from little Polina, said that in Kharkov the number of premature births increased up to three times compared to the normal situation, and half of the children were born before the expected date. “Infection, unavailable medical care, poor nutrition: war is a risk factor for premature births,” she said. In the maternity ward where she works, many children were born prematurely because many mothers came from the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, regions affected by the conflict since 2014. “In the combat zones, women spend a lot of time in crowded cellars where infections multiply. And it’s also harder for them to get medical help when they need it,” the doctor added.

While the proportion of premature births at the Kharkov maternity hospital has increased, total income has fallen as women flee Ukraine’s second city due to war.

In Lviv, on the other side of Ukraine, which has so far avoided tougher fights, the gynecology and obstetrics departments are experiencing a massive influx of patients. Victoria’s mother, Iryna Zelená, fled kyiv days before giving birth. “We left because of the heavy shelling,” the woman said. “We were constantly under cover,” he says. She believes the stress she experienced contributed to Viktorija and her sister Veronika being born more than seven weeks before the due date.

Olga Bogadizová is six months pregnant and also expecting twins. She, too, fled kyiv to bring the children to a safer place where civilians are not bombed and curfews do not apply. It took her three days to reach Lviv and she couldn’t eat or drink for fear. Doctors told her she had lost 3.5 kilos and her twins’ lives were in danger as she had stopped developing. Now she has started to grow again and her five-year-old son asks when his brothers were born every time they go to the hospital. Olga is Russian, her husband is Ukrainian.

As Russian missiles began to hit targets in Lviv, the question arose of how to care for babies like Victoria and Polina in such a situation. Kharkov Kondratová doctor says paramedics have to stay with their little patients in the intensive care unit even during an air raid. “You can’t take a six-hundred-year-old child to the basement,” he notes. “We stay with the children even during the bombardments and we live it with them”, he adds.

“Premature babies need a range of medical care, and increasingly that care has had to be moved to shelters with poor hygiene and equipment,” the Elders spokesperson said. the UN, James Elder. “Attacking hospitals, blocking the flow of humanitarian aid to children is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law,” he said.

For Iryna, Victoria’s mother, the sound of sirens is a dilemma. Victoria’s sister Veronika has already been discharged from the intensive care unit and is with her mother in the regular ward. When the sirens sound, Iryna takes her to the shelter, but she has to leave Victoria at the incubator as she is too vulnerable to handle. “It’s hard, it breaks my heart in two. I always wonder if it’s okay, how it probably feels. But in this situation, we have no choice but to be strong,” says Irina.

Lviv Hospital lined some windows with sandbags and equipped an underground shelter to house even the most vulnerable patients in incubators. Hospitals are under attack during the current conflict and Lviv hospital staff are afraid of what might happen.

As war rages behind the walls of maternity wards in Ukrainian cities, babies like Victoria and Polina fight for their own survival. Iryna caresses her daughter’s hand in the incubator. “She is Ukrainian and will win,” the woman says resolutely about her baby girl.

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