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What is considered as a Premature Birth?

Premature Birth of the baby is when the baby's birth takes place more than three weeks before the baby's estimated due date i.e. the baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature or born too early. Also known as Preterm or Preemie Baby. Premature babies are often born with moderate to complicated medical problems. So the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications.

Preterm by Category:

  • Late Preterm Baby: Babies born between 34 weeks to 37 weeks are termed as Late Preterm Babies. The baby might not necessarily look premature instead will look and act like a baby born on its due date. The baby is not fully mature and might have trouble in some ways.
  • Moderately Preterm Baby: Babies born between 32 weeks to 34 weeks are termed as Moderately Preterm Babies. These babies are mature enough to escape serious health issues. The health issues of these babies are short-lived and can be cured before NICU discharge.
  • Very Preterm Baby: The babies born between 28 weeks to 32 weeks are termed as Very Preterm Babies. These babies are at increased risk for death, medical complications, and neurodevelopmental sequelae.
  • Extremely Preterm Baby: The babies born at or before 27 weeks are termed Extremely Preterm Babies. The major organs of the baby are not fully formed when it is born too early and this cause health problems. Baby may not respond well to the attempts to keep him or her alive.
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According to WHO, every year 15 million babies are born as a premature baby i.e. more than 1 in 10 babies. Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.

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Risk Factors that lead to Premature labour:

  • Too little or too much weight gain
  • Not enough nutrients
  • Too much standing or heavy physical labor
  • Extreme emotional stress
  • Alcohol / Smoking
  • Gum Infection
  • Cervical insufficiency
  • History of preterm birth
  • Delivery of multiples
  • Premature Cervical Shortening
  • Pregnancy Complication
  • Chronic Maternal illness
  • Age factor of mom-to-be
  • General Infection like urinary , cervical, vaginal or Kidney infections

Common Questions

  • Q. What is Kangaroo mother care?

    A. Kangaroo mother care is a method for care of preterm infants. Snuggling a baby skin-to-skin is a marsupial-inspired parenting practice that comes with many substantial benefits right from the start and continuing throughout the NICU stay and beyond.

  • Q. How to bond with the preemie if he spends most of the time in NICU?

    A. Some of the ways to bond with preemie in the NICU are Kangaroo Care , talk to them , see eye-to-eye, touch and feel them , sing to them and photograph them.

  • Q. How long do preterm babies stay in NICU?

    A. The time that babies stay in NICU depends on how early they were born and how sick they have been. Some babies need less than a week in intensive care, but some may need up to 10 weeks and sometimes even more.

  • Q. Why do some babies have feeding tubes?

    A. A feeding tube is used for babies who are very young and have developed the reflex to tolerate milk feeding but does not have the strength to breastfeed or drink from bottle. These babies are fed by gavage.

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