If an infant is born before the 37th week of pregnancy, he is considered as a premature baby. The advances in medicine and science made it more possible to deliver a healthy baby earlier and save their lives at the same time. These advances in science and medicine include alternative feeding methods, preventive strategies that will keep babies longer in utero, advanced incubators, and better understanding about the complications that will affect the premature babies.
What are the possible health problems a premature baby can have after birth?
- This occurs when your baby doesn’t have enough numbers of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the entire body.
- Premature babies tend to suffer from apnea, a condition where there is a pause in breathing for 20 seconds or more may happen together will a slow heart rate.
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia. This lung condition develops in premature babies and they sometimes develop fluid in their lungs, causing scar and lung damage.
- The immune system of premature babies is not fully formed making him more prone to infections such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis.
- Intraventricular hemorrhage. It is a condition in premature babies where there is bleeding in the ventricles at the center of their brain.
- A condition where the eyes and the skin of your baby turns yellow. This happens because his liver is not working well.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis. This problem occurs in the intestine of your baby that can cause feeding problems, diarrhea, or swollen tummy.
- Patent ductus arteriosis. A heart problem that usually happens between the two major blood vessels near the heart.
- Respiratory disease syndrome. Babies who have RDS lacks with a protein called surfactant that is responsible for keeping the small air sacs in the lungs from bursting or collapsing.
- Retinopathy of prematurity. This can lead to vision loss because there is an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eyes.
What is the chance of survival for premature babies?
The chance depends on the degree of prematurity and the birth weight of your baby. It is very difficult to predict a pregnancy that will end prematurely.
How to take care a premature baby?
Discuss with your baby’s healthcare provider about your baby’s health condition. If he is healthy, then he can go home with you or he may need to stay in the NICU for some special care. He can go home from the hospital if:
- He can breastfeed or bottle feed
- He can breathe on his own
- He can keep warm on his own without needing a help from incubator
- He gains weight steadily
- Weighing at least 4 pounds
Premature babies need treatment or medicine, and special equipment right after he leaves the hospital. The hospital staff and nurses can help you with these and they will also teach you how to take care of your premature baby. Premature babies require attention and special care.
Why preventing premature birth is important?
The largest single cause of newborn and infant death is early birth. Newborn and infants who survive prematurity have a possibility to have long-term developmental disabilities.