Save the Children warns that fear in Ukraine affects the health of mothers and their newborns

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Archive – Baby carriages during a protest in Germany over the war in Ukraine. – Sachelle Babbar / Zuma Press / ContactoPhoto

The NGO Save the Children warned Thursday that the fear and stress caused by heavy shelling in Ukraine is having a devastating effect on the health of mothers, as well as their children, who are at risk of being born prematurely.

«An average of about 900 children a day are being born into a life of uncertainty. The chaos of war poses a serious threat to these mothers and their newborns,» highlighted the NGO’s Ukraine director, Sonia Khush, adding that stress and fear have caused many women to give birth prematurely.

In this sense, she explained that, although the situation at the beginning of the war was worse, since many women gave birth in basements or bunkers, now they do it in «overflowing hospitals, far from their families, and in countries that host refugees from Ukraine».

These stress symptoms can affect, Save the Children warns, the baby’s brain development or immune system, as well as lead to miscarriage or premature birth. The latter happened to Antonina, a 27-year-old woman 30 weeks pregnant who fled the fighting in Donetsk and gave birth to a premature baby girl.

«The war added an immense amount of stress to my pregnancy. I couldn’t sleep with the constant sound of fighting and the fear of something happening to my family. I was so stressed that I ended up having high blood pressure,» Antonina recounts, adding that if it weren’t for the war, she would not have had such a difficult pregnancy.

Their baby girl, Ganna, was born with a weakened immune system, which means she will have to use an inhaler three times a day and take medication for the next three years. Added to this, Antonina’s partner cannot find work, despite having moved into a shared house in Dnipro, with the consequent difficulty in meeting the costs of medication.

In the face of these harsh testimonies, in a positive tone, Khush has indicated that at the moment «there are fewer women giving birth in bunkers compared to this year», although Save the Children warns that the Ukrainian health system «is under immense pressure».

The NGO has explained that in these nine months of war there have been more than 700 attacks on health infrastructures and more than 1,100 children have died or been injured as a result of the constant attacks, according to UN figures.