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Premature Birth

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Introduction

Premature Birth is the birth of a baby that takes place more than three weeks before the estimated due date of delivery, i.e., before the start of 37 weeks; this is due to premature labor. If this occurs with a significant time difference from the expected date, it can be harmful to the baby.

Premature Birth causes significant complications for the newborn. The earlier it is, the more severe the complications and can be classified as follows, based on the time:

  • Late preterm: Baby born between 34 to 36 weeks of pregnancy; most common type
  • Moderately preterm: Born between 32 to 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • Very preterm: Born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy
  • Extremely preterm: Born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy

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What are the Causes of Premature Birth?

There might be different lifestyles and genetic factors leading to Premature Birth, like smoking, overweight or underweight during pregnancy, alcohol, etc. Having comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, preeclampsia, and infections also cause premature birth.

What are the Symptoms of Premature Birth?

If born prematurely, your baby may have the following signs and symptoms or may otherwise develop severe complications:

  • ● Babies Prematurely Born are usually underweight and smaller in size. They usually have a disproportionately large head due to neonates’ growth pattern and less time for the body to grow to match proportion
  • ● You can notice a lack of body fat in the baby overall; this gives the baby a sharp look, especially immediately after delivery
  • ● These babies have underdeveloped lungs causing difficulty breathing and effortful breathing
  • ● Lack of sucking and swallowing reflexes causing feeding difficulties

How is Premature Birth Diagnosed?

After the baby is born, the doctors might run some tests to determine complications. Some other tests are only performed if a major complication is suspected. The possible tests include:

  • ● The doctor will monitor the baby constantly for the rate of breathing and heart rate. Also, blood pressure readings are done frequently.
  • ● The intake of fluids, either orally or in other forms, is measured and compared with the output values, and this gives the doctors an idea of the baby’s kidney function.
  • ● Normal blood tests are also done at regular intervals to assess the baby’s calcium concentration, RBC count, glucose levels, and bilirubin levels. Usually, a heel stick or IV needle is used to draw blood for the tests; however, a central umbilical intravenous (IV) line is also considered to avoid multiple pricks to the baby.
  • ● Ultrasonography is performed to check the internal organ development if there is any fluid build up inside the body, any bleeding, or fluid accumulation in the brain.
  • ● An echocardiogram is performed to check for any cardiac disorders.
  • An ophthalmological examination is also performed to rule out vision concerns and retinopathy of prematurity.

How is Premature Birth Treated?

The treatment for Premature Birth babies is always done in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care nursery. They provide round-the-clock care for your premature baby.

Supportive care like keeping the baby inside an incubator is generally done to keep the baby warm. The temperature is regulated to match the mother’s womb and is gradually normalized as per the baby’s tolerable limit; this gives the baby time to get acquainted with the outside environment.

Direct skin-to-skin care is eventually recommended to the mother and baby, known as “kangaroo care.” The NICU staff will give you training for this if needed.

Close monitoring of the baby’s body fluids and replenishing any fluid loss is a part of neonatal care.

If needed, certain medications are given to the baby to promote the maturity of the vital organs. Other medications like antibiotics are only given if there is an infection or the intention to treat an infection.

Results:

Results of the surgery are usually good with today’s advanced science. There is no need to worry as your team of doctors will manage a healthy baby and mother.

What are the Risks Associated with Premature Birth treatments?

Some of the risks of surgery include:

  • ● Babies may require special care in the neonatal care unit and sometimes to be on the ventilator.
  • ● No known risk of surgery in the mother is noted. Follow the instructions of the doctor and maintain hygiene to prevent any infections.

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FAQ's

What is Special Neonate Care?

Premature Babies take time to adjust to the environment outside the uterus and hence, need more care. There are special neonate care units such as the intermediate care nursery or the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Some specialized doctors and nurses are specially trained to take care of Prematurely Born Babies. These babies are mostly kept in incubators to regulate temperature warm as the mother’s womb and vitals are monitored continuously.

How to Take Care of Premature Babies?

You should ask any doubts and questions related to your baby. Feeding assistance and guidance are also provided as it needs more effort to develop the baby’s reflexes.

What are the Immediate Complications the Baby Might Have?

Premature Birth causes several complications for the baby, and these can be short-term or long-term complications. Short-term complications include body temperature control issues, heart problems, issues with blood, breathing difficulty, brain, metabolic, gastrointestinal, and immune system problems.

What are the Complications that May Occur in the Later Life of the Baby?

Long-term complications include hearing problems, impaired learning, dental problems, cerebral palsy, vision problems, behavioral and psychological problems, and general long-lasting health conditions.

How can I Prevent Premature Birth?

There is not much to prevent this as the exact cause is not known. Take progesterone supplements to prevent Premature Birth, especially if you have a history of premature birth.
Surgical procedures like cervical cerclage are performed for women with a preexisting short cervix or a history of Premature Birth due to a short cervix. If you are less than 24 months pregnant and have a history of preterm labor, your doctor might suggest cervical cerclage; this is a surgical procedure needed if the cervical length is less than 25 millimeters.

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