All babies are miracles, even if born premature. Watching a premature baby blossom into a happy, healthy kid is incredible. But there are still some problems premature babies may face later in their life.
The difficulties of a premature baby are obvious — they haven’t had enough time to develop in the womb. So, they often have breathing problems, a low body temperature which they have trouble regulating, and a lack of essential reflexes like swallowing and suckling, making it difficult to nurse them.
A baby born before 37 weeks of gestational period is considered a premature baby. Such babies have a low birth weight (less than 2500 g). Premature babies will face many challenges but with proper medical care, most premature babies develop and live healthy in later stages of life.
11 Common Health Problems of Premature Babies
Condition is known as Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
This condition tends to occur only in premature babies. It usually affects both eyes and is the main reason children have loss of eye sight. Babies born earlier than 31 weeks are most likely to get it.
Until your baby is born her lungs are filled with fluid that helps them to grow and develop. During labor and birth this liquid is absorbed so that after birth she can breathe in the air. Premature babies are at higher risk of developing breathing problems because their lungs are not yet fully mature enough to make this switch without any extra help.
Hypotonia is a medical term for a decreased muscle tone and this usually happens in preterm babies. The muscles are usually not loose and have a bit of stiffness.
As muscle tone develops during pregnancy, premature newborn babies may have decreased muscle tone simply as a result of being premature.
The most prevailing heart condition affecting premature babies is patent ductus arteriosus. Prior to birth, ductus arteriosus, a small hole connects the two main arteries of the heart. The ductus usually closes when the baby is born, separating the two arteries. In premature babies, however, the ductus arteriosus may persist open (patent), causing extra blood to be pumped through the lungs during 1st few days of the new life of the baby. Fluid (due to the blood) can build up in the lungs, and heart failure can develop.
Difficulty in hearing
Some children are born with defective hearing because of premature birth, or abnormal inner ear development. This may lead to complete hearing loss.
The most usual health issue in premature babies is necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects baby’s intestines. Although most babies with this disease get better, the disfigurement and issues can affect them later in life due to obstruction of their intestines and this may require surgery or other medical procedures.
Premature birth can lead to intellectual and developmental disorders for babies. They can cause a person to have trouble or delays in:
- Communicating with others
- Getting along with others
- Taking care of himself
- Severe problems include:
- Neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy, that affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves throughout the body
- Autism, it is a group of disorders that affect a child’s speech, social skills and behavior
Studies and researches have shown that premature infants have a higher risk for developing dental problems such as: delayed tooth eruption, enamel hypoplasia, tooth discoloration and improper development of palatal groove.
Weak immune system
Preterm babies have immature immune systems, with reduced immunity; their immune systems may be further compromised by various factors associated with premature birth. The immune systems of preterm infants have a smaller pool of monocytes and neutrophils, the immune cells and the impaired ability of these cells to kill pathogens and reduce the ability to fight bacteria and detect viruses in cells, compared to term infants.
Behavioral and psychological issues
Researchers showed higher rates of emotional and behavioral problems at age four on all the measures used. The problems are thought to be the subtle effects of damage caused to the developing brain when the fetus is separated too early from its protective womb and subjected to the trauma of premature birth.
Low academic performances
Issues don’t just affect a premature baby’s health; they can also affect their social, personality and commutating skills. A study showed that a premature baby was at risk of developing social and school struggle later in life than their subordinate peers.
By identifying the issues of pre-term babies go through in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, we can all be better prepared to take steps to mitigate their effects and learn from it. Any o the above issues can lead to severe medical condition which should be presented to your baby’s doctor so that he can minimize the casualties.