Premature babies are defined as those born between twenty four and thirty seven weeks of gestation. The chances of survival for a baby born before twenty four weeks of pregnancy are rather lean. Premature babies are even more vulnerable than full–term babies and need to be treated with special care. These tiny, delicate creatures are often born with problems, as many of their faculties are not fully developed.
Problems associated with premature babies
The common problems associated with premature babies are
- Difficulty in feeding because of weakness.
- More susceptible to infection.
- Congenital defects, including those that affect the heart.
- Respiratory distress syndrome. Premature babies have difficulty in gas exchange as a result of protein and fluid collection within the small air sacs and the collapse of the sacs themselves.
- Greater likelihood of contracting jaundice and increased vulnerability to its effects.
- Danger of bleeding in the brain leading to the development of hydrocephalus (dilatation of the fluid–filled cavities or ventricles in the brain).
Premature babies require special care
Premature babies are put straight into intensive care till the doctors are of the opinion that they are out of danger. They are usually kept in incubators. They require round–the–clock nursing. They are fed intravenously and sometimes put on the respirator to help them breathe if necessary. Their vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and pulse are closely monitored. Even after they have been discharged from the hospital, these babies will require periodic evaluations from pediatricians, neonatologists, ophthalmologists and psychologists so as to avoid any further complications.