Pre-mature Birth

Premature birth is a major health concern affecting thousands of newborns worldwide each year. It is defined as a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature infants often face a range of complications, including respiratory problems, feeding difficulties, and an increased risk of infection. Babies born too early are also at risk of long-term health problems, including learning difficulties, vision and hearing loss, and cerebral palsy. While some risk factors for premature birth are unavoidable, several strategies can be employed to reduce the risk. This article will discuss the causes, consequences, and prevention of premature birth.

Different levels of premature birth

Pre-term birth is a serious concern for both the mother and baby. It is important to be aware of the various levels of preterm birth.

  1. Extremely preterm: This is a birth that takes place before 28 weeks of gestation.
  2. Very preterm: This is a birth that occurs between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation.
  3. Moderately preterm: This is a birth that occurs between 33 and 36 weeks of gestation.

Causes of premature birth

There are numerous reasons for preterm birth. The following are the most common causes of preterm birth:

  1. Infections: Certain infections like rubella, toxoplasmosis, chlamydia, and cytomegalovirus can cause premature labour and birth.
  2. Smoking: Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to deliver a baby prematurely compared to women who don’t smoke.
  3. Stress: Stress during pregnancy can lead to premature labour and birth. High levels of stress hormones can cause the body to go into labour early.
  4. Alcohol and drug use: Using alcohol or drugs during pregnancy can increase the risk of premature birth.
  5. Complications with the placenta: Placental problems like placental abruption or placenta previa can lead to premature birth.
  6. Multiple pregnancies: Women who are pregnant with more than one baby are more likely to have a premature birth.
  7. Uterine problems: Abnormalities in the shape of the uterus or other uterine problems can cause premature labour and birth.

complications of premature birth

Premature birth can be life-saving in certain cases, but it can also bring about numerous complications for both the baby and the mother.

  1. Respiratory Issues: Preterm infants are at high risk of developing breathing difficulties due to their still-developing lungs. Respiratory issues such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and apnea can lead to breathing problems and even respiratory failure.
  2. Digestive Issues: Preterm babies are more prone to digestive issues such as necrotizing enterocolitis, which is the inflammation and death of the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract.
  3. Brain Development: Premature babies are at risk of developing a range of neurological problems due to their still-developing brains. This can include motor skill and cognitive delays, hearing impairments, and even intellectual disabilities.
  4. Infections: Preterm babies are more susceptible to infections due to their immature immune systems. These infections can include sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
  5. Nutrition: Preterm babies are often unable to feed on their own, and this can lead to issues with nutrition. This can range from not gaining weight to developing deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals.

Preventing Premature Birth

To help prevent preterm birth, pregnant women should:

  1. Make sure to take all prenatal vitamins as prescribed by the doctor.
  2. Get regular prenatal care.
  3. Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
  4. Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs.
  5. Manage stress levels and get adequate rest.
  6. Monitor vaginal discharge and report any changes to the doctor.

How is prematurity treated?

Treatment of prematurity usually depends on how early the baby is born and the severity of their medical complications.

  1. Medical Monitoring: Doctors closely monitor premature babies to ensure that they are reaching developmental milestones, gaining weight, and managing any medical complications that arise.
  2. Nutrition: Premature babies may have difficulty eating and digesting food, so nutrition is important for their growth and development. Doctors may recommend special formula or tube feedings to ensure that the baby receives adequate nutrition.
  3. Respiratory Support: Premature babies often need help breathing. Doctors may prescribe oxygen therapy or use a ventilator to help the baby breathe.
  4. Antibiotics: Premature babies are at a higher risk for infections, so doctors may prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat infections.
  5. Blood Transfusions: Some premature babies may need blood transfusions to treat anaemia.

Babies born too early are at risk of long-term health problems, including learning difficulties, vision and hearing loss, and cerebral palsy.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Koramangala. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What factors increase the risk of premature birth?

Factors that increase the risk of premature birth include a history of premature birth, multiple pregnancies, smoking, certain health conditions, infection, and inadequate prenatal care.

2. What are the complications associated with premature birth?

Premature birth can lead to a host of complications for the baby, including breathing and feeding difficulties, low birth weight, underdeveloped organs, and an increased risk of infection and long-term health problems.

3. What treatments are available for premature babies?

Treatment for premature babies is tailored to the individual needs of the infant and may include oxygen therapy, tube feeding, medications, and other supportive therapies to help the baby grow and develop normally.

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