World Prematurity Day - 17 November 

Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future

30,000 babies are born prematurely in Canada every year,

and 1 in 10 babies worldwide are born too soon.

World Prematurity Day is observed every year to raise awareness of the challenges and long-term impact of preterm birth globally.

Many of Canada’s landmarks will be illuminated in purple on November 17th.

Check this list of locations and share your pictures on social media using the hashtags:

#WorldPrematurityDay and #PreemiePowerCanada

Do you have a World Prematurity Day event you’d like to tell us about?

Planning for World Prematurity Day happens all year round. If you have plans to share, or you’d like support to organize something in your community, please email us at

What can YOU do to take part in World Prematurity Day?

Everyone is warmly invited take part in activities, hold events, and raise awareness: parent and non-profit organizations, hospitals, healthcare professionals, businesses, politicians, governments at all levels, media, and individuals.

No effort is too small — even simple actions make a difference! Join us by wearing purple and following some of the suggestions below:

How to celebrate World Prematurity Day

  • Follow CPBF-FBPC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Like, share, and tag us. Use our hashtags         #PreemiePowerCanada and #WorldPrematurityDay 

  • Tell us about a monument or landmark in your town or city that you would like to see lit up purple. We’ll contact them and see if we can make it happen!

  • Ask your child’s school to have students wear purple on November 17, or hold a school fundraiser close to the date.

  • Ask your co-workers to wear purple and donate to CPBF.

  • Host a fundraiser like a bake sale or silent auction at your workplace, school, or place of worship.

  • Join our yearly campaign in November. Check our social media channels for details.

World Prematurity Day is represented by the colour purple, which stands for sensitivity and exceptionality, and the “socksline” — a clothesline featuring a small pair of purple socks framed by nine full-sized pairs of baby socks — symbolizes the 1 in 10 babies born prematurely worldwide.

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Get creative and let us know how you plan to celebrate World Prematurity Day!


We were proud to partner with Pampers during the Prematurity Awareness Month in 2020.


Through the outstanding support of #PampersForPreemies, Pampers Canada is donating 230,000 diapers to NICU families across Canada via CPBF.

Families in 36 hospitals are receiving the CPBF graduation package containing one package of Pampers and a graduation certificate to celebrate the most important milestone of all: graduation day!


Thank you to our amazing community!

Canada’s Role in Raising Awareness on World Prematurity Day 

CPBF-FBPC plays a major role in promoting World Prematurity Day across Canada. We join forces with organizations and individuals from more than 100 countries to raise awareness, organize special events, and take action to address preterm birth and improve outcomes for preterm babies and families. We also support the International Global Illumination Project, lighting landmarks and monuments in purple to honour preemies, their families, and their dedicated caregivers.


More about World Prematurity Day

On November 17, 2008, one of the founding members of European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants (EFCNI) became the proud father of a daughter after having lost his triplets due to preterm birth. That day, during the first EFCNI Parent Organization Meeting in Rome, Italy, was named World Prematurity Day. The international co-founders LittleBigSouls (Africa), March of Dimes (USA), and National Preemie Foundation (Australia) joined the celebrations in 2010 and made World Prematurity Day an intercontinental movement.

Why We Need To Raise Awareness

In the Media

World Prematurity Day stories – November 17th, 2020

City Line


Global News Kelowna

Definition & epidemiology

The World Health Assembly (= decision-making body of WHO) provided the first definition of preterm birth in 1948. Nowadays this is the most extensively used and accepted definition of preterm birth.

The average pregnancy lasts for approximately 37 to 42 weeks. Every baby born before completion of 37 weeks of pregnancy (also called weeks of gestation) is considered as preterm. The following subcategories are used for further distinction:

  • extremely preterm: <28 weeks of gestation

  • very preterm: 28 to <32 weeks of gestation

  • moderate to late preterm: 32 to <37 weeks of gestation

  • late preterm may still be differed with referring to 34-37 weeks of gestation [1]


Preterm babies are also differentiated in terms of unusually small body length and weight for the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestation period, also called gestational age). Babies born preterm have much higher rates of low birthweight. Low birthweight refers to babies who are born weighing less than 2,500 grams (about 5.51 pounds), very low birthweight to babies with a birth weight less than 1,500 grams (about 3.30 pounds). The concept of small for gestational age describes babies who are smaller than the usual average for the number of weeks of pregnancy.

Worldwide situation

  • Worldwide, estimated 15 million babies are born preterm annually [2] – that means 1 baby in 10 is born premature. Worldwide. And the number is rising.

  • Preterm birth complications are the main cause of global under-5 deaths [3].

  • Preterm birth complications were responsible for nearly 1 million deaths in 2015.

  • Three-quarters of them could be saved with current, cost-effective interventions.

  • Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual an hearing problems. [4].

  • Across 184 countries, the rate of preterm birth ranges from 5% to 18% of babies born. [4].

  • Inequalities in survival rates around the world are stark. In low-income settings, half of the babies born at or below 32 weeks die due to a lack of feasible, cost-effective and basic care, e.g. warmth, breastfeeding support, basic care for infections and breathing difficulties. [4].

  • In Europe, preterm birth is one of the two leading causes for neonatal mortality and accounts for more than half of all deaths in later childhood. Prevalence rates of preterm birth range from 5.4 to 12.0 % – an average of 7.3% of all live births [5].


[1] World Health Organization. Preterm birth. 2016. Available from:

[2] Althabe F, Howson CP, Kinney M, Lawn J, World Health Organization. Born too soon: the global action report on preterm birth. 2012. Available from:

[3] GBD 2015 Child Mortality Collaborators, and others. Global, regional, national, and selected subnational levels of stillbirths, neonatal, infant, and under-5 mortality, 1980–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. 2016. The Lancet, 388 (10053): 1725–1774.

[4] World Health Organization. WHO fact sheet on preterm birth. Available from:

[5] EURO-PERISTAT Project. European Perinatal Health Report. Core indicators of the health and care of pregnant women and babies in Europe in 2015. Available from: