Born too soon: Understanding Preterm Birth

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Born too soon: Understanding Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is a global health challenge. Staying pregnant for the full term, 39-40 weeks, is one of the best ways to give babies the time they need to grow. Preterm birth is a birth that takes place before the 37th week of pregnancy. Some premature babies have to spend time in a hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU) to get special medical care. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, babies’ brains and lungs undergo rapid development. With less time to develop in the womb, premature births can lead to problems related to the heart, breathing, cognition, hearing, and vision. Some of these problems, for instance, cerebral palsy, can be serious and lifelong. Thanks to advances in medicine, even babies born very prematurely are more likely to survive today than years ago.

Weight of the baby

While the average full-term baby weighs about 3 kg at birth, a premature newborn might weigh 2.25 kg or even considerably less. But thanks to medical advances, children born after 28 weeks of pregnancy, and weighing more than 1 kg, have almost a full chance of survival. Some premature babies need to spend time in a hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

The earlier in pregnancy a baby is born, the more likely he/she is to have health issues. The doctor might use these terms to describe the baby’s birth:

  • Late preterm – Born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy
  • Moderately preterm – Born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy
  • Very preterm – Born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy
  • Extremely preterm – Born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy

Common Causes of Preterm Birth

Preterm births occur for many different reasons. Preterm births are often unexpected, but there are known risk factors associated with preterm birth that can help determine the risk. For some of these risk factors, there may be ways you can reduce your risk. There are multiple risk factors for premature birth. These are some signs you might be at risk for preterm labor.

  • Prior preterm birth
  • Having pregnancies back to back
  • Pregnant with twins or triplets
  • Problems with uterus or cervix
  • Health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
  • Being overweight/ underweight
  • Smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Some events can stimulate the onset of premature labor including placental abruption, incompetent cervix, hormonal changes, or infection.

Do premature babies need special medical care?

The earlier your baby arrives, the smaller he/ she will be, the larger the head will seem in relation to the rest of the body, and the less fat the baby will have. As the baby has no protective fat, the premature baby will get cold in normal room temperatures. For that reason, the baby has to be placed immediately after birth in an incubator or under a special heating device called a radiant warmer. Here the temperature can be adjusted to keep the baby warm. Most of the preterm babies have a good chance of healthy survival with special newborn care. Babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy are most likely to have health problems, but babies born between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy are also at increased risk of having health problems related to premature birth.

Best Neonatal Care Hospital in Chennai

After a quick examination in the delivery room, the baby might be moved to the NICU upon the specialist’s advice. If the baby is premature or needs surgical care, he/she will be cared for in our exclusive Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Prashanth Hospitals has one of the best NICU in Chennai. While some risk factors cannot be changed, there are a few general ways to reduce the odds of having a premature birth. You can have antenatal appointments more often and you will have extra tests and checks to make sure that you and your baby ore doing fine.

Prashanth Hospitals houses the most advanced facilities like high-end intensive care unit, ventilators, CPAP machines, incubators, ECMO which is available only in a few centers in Chennai, maternal ICU exclusively for mothers with complex health issues, Pediatric ICU, and 24 hours ICU availability with the best specialists to treat mothers as well as newborns. If you think you are experiencing preterm labor, it is important that you see a doctor right away.

To know more about preterm birth in our specialist’s own words, watch the video below. Click here to know more about the best neonatal services in Chennai at Prashanth Hospitals.