What is a premature baby?
Premature babies are born due to physical problems in the mother and problems caused to the baby during pregnancy. They may have several congenital problems, some of which can be cured while others cannot result in many long term problems. Premature babies need extra care.
Preterm or premature babies are those babies who are delivered before the completion of 37 weeks of gestation. These babies weigh less than 2.5 kg. A baby may also be called premature, if it is born two or three weeks before the due date. Preterm birth is the most significant cause of mortality amongst newborns.
Causes of pre-term birth and premature babies:
- Age of the mother: If the mother is below 18 or above 35.
- Pregnancy interval: If the time gap between two pregnancies are less and are almost back to back (less than one year).
- Women with previous history of abortion are more prone to delivering preemies.
- Nutrition taken by the mother: Women, who are malnourished, with inadequate protein, vitamins and minerals are prone to this risk.
- Obesity: Obesity leads to hypertension and diabetes that may lead to preterm birth of your baby.
- Physical disorders: Heart disease, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, thyroid, vaginal bleeding in the mother during pregnancy.
- Uterine malformation: It may not grow enough with the growing size of the baby.
- Depression and anxiety: A woman should therefore be cheerful during pregnancy, as a depressed mind can deliver premature babies. Learn more about depression here.
- Bad habits: Consumption of tobacco, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes during pregnancy.
- Infections: Some viral, fungal and bacterial infections can lead to premature birth. These diseases include pneumonia, appendicitis, pyelonephritis, and bacterial vaginosis.
Risk Factors of pre-term birth:
Premature babies are prone to certain physical and neurological problems. They are more vulnerable to infections, as they have a weak immune system.
- Urinary tract infections
2. Blood related problems:-
3. Respiratory problems:-
4. Heart problems
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (failure of Ductus)
5. Neurological problems
- Developmental disabilities
- Cerebral palsy
- Intraventricular hemorrhage
6. Feeding Difficulties and metabolic problems
7. Birth Problems
- Low birth weight
- Small size
- Week resistance to the new environment
Caring for premature babies:
- Feed the baby at least eight times.
- Do not feed solid foods. Crush the food in paste or feed him liquid food.
- Put the baby on his back when he sleeps.
- Make him sleep a lot.
- Take extra care to keep him away from any kind or infection, unhygienic environment, dust or allergies.
- Take him to the doctor from time to time.
- Feed him with the help of a gavage pipe till he is 32 weeks old.
- Till that time the baby cannot be taken home and has to be kept under supervision.
- Breast feeding a preemie regularly is very important. That would be the best nutrition for him.
- Do not feed him from the bottle unless advised by the doctor.
Long term problems of premature babies:
- They have a higher mortality rate in the childhood.
- Their educational achievement is very low as their IQ is not always at par with the normal babies.
- They may also give birth to premature babies themselves.
- Parts of their brains are smaller than the rest of the kids.
- They are born with poor immunity and they are less likely to improve their immunity system later on. As a result, they are more vulnerable to diseases.
- They often suffer from respiratory problems.
- Some genetic and hormonal problems are also seen in premature babies. The most common one is inability to gain weight.
- One in every four babies suffers from hearing impairments.
- Huge fractions of premature babies suffer from developmental coordination disorder, and dyslexia.
- They have some mild behavioral problems like they may be very impulsive, easily distractible, lack persistence, determination and confidence.
- Some of these babies may have inborn traits of deafness, blindness or they may be mentally handicapped.
However, it may turn out to be the other way round as well. It is not necessary that they would be the lowest scorer in the class. They can be very good in their own field of aptitude like music, art, sports, mathematics and science. Newton and Einstein were both premature babies. If good care is taken right from the very beginning, and his physical constitution can be built right from the very beginning through proper food and breast feeding, he can also lead a normal life.