Did you know that right now in the United States, 1 in 10 babies are born premature? And this rate is rising quickly! We don’t yet know exactly why this is happening, but since it’s becoming so common, I think parents need to be prepared for the possibility. So here are a few things you need to know about premature babies. But don’t worry, this post has a happy ending!
Prematurity: 10 Things Expecting Parents Need to Know
- “Preterm” babies are born between 32-34 weeks gestation and are at high risk of eye, heart and lung complications.
- Babies born between 34-38 weeks gestation are called “late-preterm” and still are at a higher risk of health and developmental problems in the future compared to full-term infants.
- “Micro-preemies” are born at less than 26 weeks gestation or weight less than 1lb 12 oz.
- About 60% of all twins are born premature.
- C-sections and induced labors should not be scheduled before 39 weeks gestation unless there are significant medical complications that outweigh the risks of prematurity.
- Premature babies’ lungs aren’t well developed before 34-36 weeks gestation and may require a respirator or other breathing treatments soon after they are born.
- Preemies also have more difficulty with temperature regulation, feeding, digestion and weight gain at birth.
- Preemies are at a higher risk for SIDS. (Read 10 Things You Need to Know About SIDS)
- “Healthy” premature babies can go home from the hospital (NICU) when they are steadily gaining weight and breathing well on their own. Usually, they have to be at least 4 pounds and have the ability to maintain their oxygen levels in a car seat for 30 minutes or more (this can vary depending on each hospital’s own policies.)
- While babies born premature often come home from the hospital “healthy,” they still have a higher risk of developing problems later on in life including weakened immune systems and difficulty with motor development, learning, reading and socializing than full term babies.
And the good news is…
Ongoing advances in modern medicine are allowing for premature babies to survive and thrive with fewer complications than ever before! We are so fortunate to have these little angels in our lives, to teach us how to find growth, light, and humor in even the most difficult situations! People often say to me, “Isn’t it just heartbreaking to work with kids that have so many problems?” And honestly, it’s just the opposite. I can’t think of any other job in the world that would be as inspiring or rewarding as working with babies and kids with disabilities, challenges, and special needs. They have taught me so much about optimism, positivity, and perseverance. And I love making a difference in their lives. Enough said.♥
Thanks for reading! I’m sure this short little list has provoked a lot more questions or concerns. Go ahead, just ask! There are many more detailed articles about prematurity in the works. Please! Subscribe via email to be one of the first to read them, right off the press!!
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