What are the problems faced by premature babies? Pregnancy will usually last up to about 40 weeks, but in some cases, babies are born before this period is over, leading to numerous problems faced by premature babies. Babies who are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are referred to as premature babies, and will usually face a host of issues owing to their tiny size and the fact that they are immature. The extent of these problems will be dependent on how far the pregnancy has advanced as well as the baby’s birth weight. With special care and treatment, it is possible that premature babies born at 23 weeks have a chance of survival. At least technological advancements have made it possible to achieve such feats.
Below are some of the problems faced by premature babies:
- Loss of body heat due to the fact that preemies, as they are commonly referred to, are tinier than babies born at full-term. In addition, their skin is not fully developed and has very little fat which plays a key role in insulation.
- Premature babies will also face respiratory problems since their lungs are not matured. Their lungs also produce inadequate surfactant, a surface active material that coats the alveoli and ensures proper functioning of the lungs. This problem is referred to as respiratory distress syndrome, and will manifest in a number of ways including shallow irregular breathing.
- The presence of an immature brain is one of the problems faced by premature babies. It also contributes to irregular breathing mentioned above.
- Premature babies are also prone to infections as their immune system is still underdeveloped. The trauma during birth coupled with the lack of oxygen results in damage to the brain.
- In extremely premature babies, those who are born before the 28th week of pregnancy, blood vessels found in the brain could burst, leading to internal bleeding with devastating effects. While there are no permanent problems, this often leads to learning disabilities as well as problems with motor systems.
- In some cases, one of the most common problems faced by premature babies is the occurrence of neonatal jaundice, a condition that leads to the yellowing of the skin as well as the white region of the eyes. This happens because the liver is immature, and is cause for medical attention.
What needs to be done in line with these problems?
The condition of the child will be assessed following birth, and a course of treatment followed through. Often, feeding patterns will have to be established. The baby must also be kept warm, preferably in an incubator where the environment is tightly regulated, in which case feeding may be done intravenously. Parents will be encouraged to take care of their children as this hastens the recovery period. During this period, various tests will be done to ensure that problems faced by premature babies do not escalate as well as to contain any abnormalities that may arise. Premature birth need not be a death sentence as it can be addressed.