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A Premature Baby – Everything You Need To Know

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   8 min     



Premature birth may be a birth that takes place quite three weeks before the baby's estimated maturity. Basically, premature birth is one that happens before the beginning of the 37th week of pregnancy.

Premature babies have complicated medical problems, especially the earlier they are born. Typically, complications of prematurity vary. But the sooner your baby is born, the higher the danger of complications.

A premature baby, based on how early the birth was, it may be:

  • Late preterm, born between 34 and 36th week of pregnancy
  • Moderately preterm, born between 32 and 34th week of pregnancy
  • Very preterm, born at or before the 32nd week of pregnancy
  • Extremely preterm, born at or before the 25th week of pregnancy

Most premature births occur within the late preterm stage.


Premature babies have very mild or more-obvious complications. This could range from the size to different health problems.

Some of the symptoms include;

  • Small-sized body, with a disproportionately large head
  • Features are much sharper than a full-term baby's features, thanks to lack of fat
  • Fine hair (lanugo) covering much of the body
  • Low blood heat, especially immediately after birth within the delivery room, thanks to a scarcity of stored body fat
  • Laboured breathing or respiratory distress
  • Feeding difficulties as reflexes for sucking and swallowing haven't yet developed

Special care

If you deliver a premature baby, your baby will likely need an extended hospital stay during a special nursery unit at the hospital. Counting on what proportion care your baby requires, he or she could also be admitted to an intermediate care nursery or the neonatal medical care unit (NICU). Doctors and a specialized team with training in taking care of preterm babies are going to be available to assist look after your baby. Don't hesitate to ask questions.

Your baby may have extra help feeding, and adapting immediately after delivery. Your health care team can assist you in understanding what's needed and what your baby's care plan is going to be.

Risk factors

Often, the precise explanation for premature birth isn't known. However, some of the risk factors of premature delivery, include:

  • Having a previous premature birth
  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • An interval of but six months between pregnancies
  • Conceiving through in vitro fertilization
  • Problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
  • Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
  • Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
  • Some chronic conditions, like high vital sign and diabetes
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
  • Stressful events, like the death of a beloved or violence
  • Multiple miscarriages or abortions
  • Physical injury or trauma

Premature birth can happen to anyone. In fact, many ladies who have a premature birth don't have any of the above factors affecting them.


All premature babies do not experience complications, but being born very early can bring about short-term and long-term health problems. Generally, the sooner a baby is born, the upper the danger of complications. Birth weight plays a crucial role, too.

Some problems could also be apparent at birth, while others might not develop until later.

Short-term complications

In the initial  weeks, the complications of premature birth may include:

  • Breathing problems: A preterm baby may have trouble breathing thanks to an immature systema respiratorium. If the baby's lungs lack the substance that permits the lungs to expand, called surfactant, it may lead to respiratory distress syndrome because the lungs can't expand and contract normally. Premature babies can also develop a lung disorder referred to as bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Additionally, some preterm babies may experience prolonged pauses in their breathing, referred to as apnea.
  • Heart problems: The foremost common heart problems premature babies experiences are patent blood vessel (PDA) and low vital sign (hypotension). PDA may be a persistent opening between the aorta and arteria pulmonalis. While this heart defect often heals on its own, left untreated, it can cause a cardiac murmur, coronary failure also as other complications. The low vital sign may require adjustments in intravenous fluids, medicines and sometimes blood transfusions.
  • Brain problems: The sooner a baby is born, the greater the danger of bleeding within the brain, referred to as an intraventricular haemorrhage. This condition is usually mild and heals on its own without causing any long term side effects. But in some cases, the child may have larger brain bleeding that causes permanent brain injury.
  • Temperature control problems: Premature babies can lose body heat rapidly. They do not have the stored body fat of a full-term infant, and therefore cannot generate heat to counteract what's lost through the surface of their bodies. If blood heat dips too low, an abnormally low core blood heat (hypothermia) may result. Hypothermia during a preterm baby can cause breathing problems and low blood glucose levels. Additionally, a premature baby may spend all of the energy gained from feedings just to remain warm. That's why smaller premature babies require additional heat from a hotter or an incubator until they're larger and ready to maintain blood heat without assistance.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Premature infants are more likely to possess immature gastrointestinal systems, leading to complications like NEC (NEC). This potentially serious condition, during which the cells lining the bowel wall are injured, can occur in premature babies after they begin feeding. Premature babies receiving only breast milk have a way lower risk of developing NEC.
  • Blood problems: Premature babies are at the risk of developing blood problems like anaemia and newborn jaundice. Anaemia may be a common condition during which the body doesn't have enough red blood cells. While all newborns experience a slow drop by red blood corpuscle count during the primary months of life, the decrease could also be greater in premature babies. Newborn jaundice maybe a yellow discolouration during a baby's skin and eyes that happens because the baby's blood contains excess bilirubin.  While there are many causes of newborn jaundice, it's often found in preterm babies.
  • Metabolism problems: Some premature babies could develop an abnormally low level of blood glucose (hypoglycemia). This will happen because premature infants typically have smaller stores of stored glucose than do full-term babies. Premature babies even have more difficulty converting their stored glucose into more-usable, active sorts of glucose.
  • Immune system problems: An underdeveloped system, common in premature babies, can cause a better risk of infection. Infection during a preterm baby can quickly spread to the bloodstream, causing sepsis, an infection that spreads to the bloodstream.

Long-term complications

In the future, premature birth may cause subsequent complications:

  • Cerebral palsySpastic paralysis may be a disorder of movement, muscular tonus or posture which will be caused by infection, insufficient blood flow, or injury to a newborn's developing brain either early during pregnancy or while the baby remains young and immature.
  • Slow learning: Premature babies are more likely to lag when compared to their full-term counterparts on various developmental milestones. Upon school age, a toddler who was born prematurely could be more likely to possess learning disabilities.
  • Problems with vision: Premature infants may have retinopathy of prematurity, a disease that happens when blood vessels swell and overgrow within the light-sensitive layer of nerves at the rear of the attention (retina). In some cases,  the abnormal retinal vessels gradually scar the retina, pulling it out of position. When the retina is pulled faraway from the rear of the attention, it's called detachment of the retina, a condition that, if undetected, can impair vision and cause blindness.
  • Hearing problems: Premature babies are at increased risk of a point of deafness. All babies will have their hearing checked before going home.
  • Dental problems: Premature infants who are critically ill are at increased risk of developing dental problems, like delayed tooth eruption, tooth discolouration or improperly aligned teeth.
  • Behavioural and psychological problems: Children who experienced premature birth could also be more likely than full-term infants to possess certain behavioural or psychological problems, also as developmental delays.
  • Chronic health issues: Premature babies are more likely to possess chronic health issues — a number of which can require hospitalization — than are full-term infants. Some of them include infections, asthma and feeding problems are more likely to develop or persist. Premature infants also are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Although the precise explanation for preterm birth is usually unknown, there are some things which will be done to assist women — especially those that have an increased risk — to scale back their risk of preterm birth, including:

  • Progesterone supplements: Women with a history of preterm birth, a brief cervix or both factors could also be ready to reduce the danger of preterm birth with progesterone supplementation.
  • Cervical cerclage: This is often a surgery performed during pregnancy in women with a brief cervix, or a history of cervical shortening that resulted during a preterm birth. This procedure involves stitching the cervix close with strong sutures which will provide extra support to the uterus. The sutures are removed when it is time to deliver the baby. Ask your doctor if you would like to avoid vigorous activity during the rest of your pregnancy.

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Tags:  premature baby,breast feeding,post-natal mother and baby care,premature baby, small baby, premature baby care, pregnancy care

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