The National Maternity Hospital Marks World Prematurity Day

By Communications, Friday, 17th November 2023 | 0 comments

World Prematurity Day is a special day at The National Maternity Hospital. Marked around the world each year on the 17th of November, it aims to raise awareness of the challenges of preterm birth.

Today the hospital was proud to launch its neonatal ACORN (Allied Care of at Risk Newborns) therapy programme for babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The programme is run by the hospital’s ACORN Team, a group of healthcare professionals skilled in preterm development who work with our Neonatal Medical and Nursing Team in caring for NICU babies.

The National Maternity Hospital’s ACORN Programme was launched at the hospital’s Coffee Morning to mark World Prematurity Day. This event was kindly supported by The NMH Foundation. Master of The National Maternity Hospital, Professor Shane Higgins, together with Dr Deirdre Sweetman, Head of the Neonatal Department at The National Maternity Hospital welcomed back parents whose children have been cared for in The National Maternity Hospital NICU. A heart-warming event, parents connected and shared their stories with each other, as well as with neonatal nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and doctors from The National Maternity Hospital. 

Each year more than 4,500 pregnant women in Ireland give birth prematurely. The National Maternity Hospital neonatal service is a recognised centre of excellence and receives referrals for acutely ill and preterm babies from across the country. The NMH NICU is one of four designated tertiary care NICUs in Ireland that provides specialised care to the most premature of babies. Last year, The National Maternity Hospital NICU looked after 1,132 babies.

Speaking at the event, Master of The National Maternity Hospital, Professor Shane Higgins said; “We are delighted to be launching The National Maternity Hospital’s ACORN Programme on World Prematurity Day, a special day for The National Maternity Hospital as we welcome back parents and babies who have spent time in our care and listen to their stories and experiences. Today also provides an opportunity to thank our highly skilled and dedicated NICU team for the important work that they do.”

To raise awareness of preterm birth on World Prematurity Day, Dr Siobhan Corcoran, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at The National Maternity Hospital appeared on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM programme and spoke about her work. Dr Corcoran is the clinical lead for The National Maternity Hospital’s Preterm Birth Clinic. This is a specialist antenatal clinic for women at risk of preterm birth.

The clinic cares for pregnant women who have had a premature baby in the past, women who have lost a baby through prematurity and are pregnant again, or first-time mothers who are at high risk of preterm birth because of their medical history. The clinic’s work focuses on Prediction, Prevention and Preparation regarding preterm birth. 

Lynne Chaloner, who was a patient of the clinic, also appeared on the Ireland AM programme and described her experience of preterm birth. Lynne talked about the devastating loss of her baby Dominic from extreme prematurity, her subsequent second pregnancy, attending the preterm birth clinic with Dr Corcoran, and the arrival of her beautiful son Finn who is now 6 months old.

This evening, The National Maternity Hospital will join buildings around the world in lighting up in purple to mark World Prematurity Day.

To watch the full interview on Ireland AM go to:

For more information on The National Maternity Hospital NICU go to:

For media enquiries please contact Communications Officer, Sophie Mac Neice on

086 1677987 or email

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