Preterm babies are babies born before the age of 37 weeks. Unlike babies born with enough months, babies born prematurely need intensive treatment because their organs have not developed perfectly.
Babies born prematurely usually have slightly larger head sizes, with small bodies. Most premature babies also have a low birth weight.
Because it is born too early, the organs of the premature baby are not ready to function properly outside the womb. Therefore, babies born prematurely are at risk of various health problems, such as respiratory problems, problems with the brain, easing cold (hypothermia), susceptible to infection, and difficulty swallowing or breastfeeding
That’s why babies born prematurely often need care in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) for a while, until the organs and the condition of the body can function.
Preterm babies characteristics
In general, premature babies have the following characteristics:
- Smaller size with weight under 2.5 kg
- Thin and brittle skin
- Lots of lanugo (fine hair) on the body
- Lower body temperature
- Have breathing problems
- Lack of reflexes in sucking and swallowing.
Preterm babies complications
Since babies are born before the age of 37 weeks where the body formation process is not yet so perfect, complications are very likely. The main problem that babies may experience early birth is respiratory problems where the baby’s lungs are not functioning properly, so generally the baby will be helped with tools after birth.
In addition, the risk of infection as well as complications in the heart, metabolism, immune system, digestion can be experienced by babies born early. SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is also possible. In the long run, problems such as cognitive, behavioral and psychological development, hearing and vision may be experienced by children born prematurely.
Although many babies are born prematurely who are able to survive, to grow up and become older persons, many of them have quite serious complications, namely:
Cerebral palsy and chronic health problems
Cerebral palsy is a disorder in movement and muscle mass or posture.
The disorder may be caused by infection, inadequate blood flow, or injury while the baby’s brain is developing. This can happen when the child is still in the womb or still at a very young age.
Not only that, premature babies are more at risk of chronic diseases that some need hospital treatment. Infections, asthma, and eating problems are the most common.
Worst of all, babies born prematurely have a high risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Learning, attitude, and psychological disorders
Babies born prematurely are more likely to miss out than children their age in terms of development.
Especially at school age, they are more likely to have an inability to catch lessons.
In addition, many children born prematurely experience the attitude and mental retardation due to their late development.
Vision, hearing and teething problems
Premature babies are likely to experience retinopathy of prematurity, a disease that occurs due to blood vessels that swell and grow too fast in the retina.
Sometimes, retinal vessels injure the retina a lot and pull it out of its supposed position.
When the retina of the eye is pulled from the back of the eye, the condition is referred to as retinal ablation where if the condition is unknown and not treated it will eventually cause blindness.
They also have a risk of hearing loss so it is necessary to have a hearing examination before the baby is brought home by their parents.
For dental problems, it usually occurs in premature children who have experienced critical illness.
When critically ill, children born prematurely mostly experience dental problems such as late teeth growth, discoloration of teeth, and also teeth growing not straight.
When are premature babies allowed to go home?
Before being allowed to go to the home, premature babies usually get various treatments in advance while in the hospital. The baby may be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
However, basically the premature baby was only allowed to go home when his body condition was deemed to have been stable enough. For example, when your child no longer needs special equipment or medical care in the hospital. The baby’s weight is also seen to increase, as well as being able to breastfeed smoothly.
A healthy baby, having no breathing problems and stable body temperature, it is also a factor in the consideration that premature babies can be brought home.
Thank you very much for reading Preterm Babies: 6 Characteristics, Complications, and When allowed to go home? Hopefully useful.