A birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy is called preterm pregnancy. A baby born in preterm is called a ‘premature baby’. Usually, a normal pregnancy term lasts for about 40 weeks. Medical advancement shows that 9 or more out of 10 premature babies survive and most go on to develop normally. Deficiencies faced by preterm babes are usually curable under the hands of a professionally trained expert.
Signs of a probable preterm delivery include vigorous uterine contractions or leaking of excess fluids through vagina.
Women who have had earlier premature births or have been pregnant with multiples are prone to preterm. Other physical disorders suffered by pregnant women might also lead to preterm births. Undue stress during pregnancy can also be a contributing factor.
Premature babies often need longer or more extensive care in the nursing home, medicines and even surgery.
Some symptoms for preterm birth
More often than never, premature babies face symptoms like infection of lungs (baby pneumonia), inflammation of brain layers (meningitis), sight problems like ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity), poor feeding, difficulty in regulating temperature, hearing loss and slower weight gain. They may also have RDS (Respiratory distress syndrome) and slow heart rate causing a disorder called apnea. This is most common in babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy. Many preterm births are accompanied by mental retardation and in some cases, cerebral palsy.
In case of mothers, preterm birth may also cause placental problems and infection.
In general, there are three phases in preterm birth:
- Extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks)
- Very preterm (28 to 32 weeks)
- Moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks)
As treatment for preterm birth, the mother is assisted medically to extend the pregnancy as far as possible.
Why is Premature Birth a Problem?
Nine months is the general duration of gestation or pregnancy. This is the minimum period that is required for a fetus to attain its full maturity and development within the mother’s womb. However, in case of preterm, the baby isn’t able to complete its full term and is hence less developed than another baby who is fully mature during delivery.