Approximately 10 percent of babies are born prior to the 37th week and are named premature. Since these babies have yet to complete their development in their mothers’ wombs, they are usually born with some health issues.
As premature babies are born without fully completing their organ developments, some need to stay in an intensive care unit and within an incubator for a long time while others are required to be connected to a respirator. It is extremely important that a pregnant woman who has a high probability of premature birth should give birth in a hospital equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit.
Rapid developments seen in the medical field in recent years enables even 23 – 24 week-old tiny babies born under 1000 g to live. However, the earlier the baby, the more issues are encountered and possible complications increase.
Health issues that may arise in premature babies:
● Hypothermia (drop in body temperature) may be observed as subcutaneous fat layers are not developed. They get cold much quicker compared to full-term newborns.
● Lungs and respiratory center in the brain not being fully developed may cause shortness in breathing and oxygen deficiency.
● Inability of the liver to adequately perform its detoxification function may cause jaundice.
● Reflexes will not be developed. The new-born may have difficulty in breastfeeding.
● Body resistance is low against infections as their immunity system has not developed.
● Hearing loss may occur in case the brain is left without oxygen.
● Blindness may occur as the blood vessels of the retina layer are not fully developed in the eyes of premature babies.
● “Cerebral palsy” may be encountered in premature babies. Damage my occur to the movement function fields of the central nervous system due to the brain being deprived of oxygen.
● Anemia may develop in a premature baby’s body due to insufficient generation by bone marrow of blood cells (erythrocytes) that carry oxygen in the body.
Going Back Home
When premature babies
● can be fully fed with breast milk or baby formula,
● reach a minimum weight of 2 kg and are 34-week birth age,
● start gaining weight and regulate their own body temperatures
they are allowed to go home.