Emel Hospital celebrates - World Prematurity Day 2020- November 17th Together for babies born too soon – Caring for the future
Who is a preterm baby?
A preterm baby is one delivered alive before 37 completed weeks
There are sub-categories of preterm birth, based on gestational age:
- extremely preterm (less than 25 weeks)
- very preterm (25 to 32 weeks)
- moderate to late preterm (32 to 34 weeks)
- late preterm (34-36 weeks)
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year.
That is more than 1 in 10 babies. Approximately 1 million children die each year due to complications of preterm birth. Many survivors face a lifetime of disability, including learning disabilities and visual and hearing problems.
- Statistics show that Nigeria is the third country with the greatest number of premature births - 773 600 annually
Risk factors for having a preterm baby
- Poor nutrition before and during pregnancy
- Smoking and the use of illegal drugs
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Infections e.g UTI, amniotic fluid infections
- Premature birth in previous pregnancies
- Abnormalities with the uterus, cervix, and placenta
- Multiple pregnancies
- IVF pregnancies
- Medical conditions e.g Hypertension, Diabetes, sickle cell disease
- Being overweight or underweight in pregnancy
What are the challenges these babies face?
- Breathing problems-
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS
- Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)
- Apnea of prematurity (AOP)
- Neonatal sepsis.
- Intraventricular hemorrhage
- Neonatal jaundice
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP
- Patent ductusarteriosus
Care of the preterm baby
The care of the preterm baby depends on the gestational age of the baby and the challenges the baby has. Care is individualized
- Prevention of infection
- Ensure warmth- incubator care, kangaroo-mother- care
- Feeding- expressed breast milk
- Prevention of jaundice
- Respiratory support
How can we prevent having a premature baby?
Although there are some risk factors that you cannot change, there are a few general ways in which you can reduce the odds of having a premature birth. These involve behaviors that encourage a healthy pregnancy.
- Quit smoking before your pregnancy or as early as you can during pregnancy.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs.
- Advise your health care provider of all medications that you are taking, because some may be harmful to your pregnancy and might need to be phased out.
- Maintain an adequate amount of weight gain throughout your pregnancy, depending on what your health care provider thinks is right for you.
- Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet Nutrition and optimal prenatal care are especially important if you are under age 17 years, over 35 years, or carrying twins or multiple babies.
- Avoid heavy lifting and work, and standing for long periods of time.
- Minimize the stress in your life whenever possible, and deal with stress using relaxation techniques, exercise, nutrition, and rest.
- Go to antenatal classes.
- Avoid infections as much as possible.
- If you have a history of premature birth caused by structural abnormalities of the uterus, these abnormalities may be corrected with surgery before you become pregnant.
- Premature delivery due to an incompetent cervix can be reduced with a surgical procedure that closes the cervix from the 14th week of pregnancy until the ninth month.
- Some chronic maternal illnesses can lead to premature birth if they are not treated properly during pregnancy. They need to be appropriately managed during pregnancy.
- If your health care provider thinks you are at high risk for premature labor, they may suggest that you refrain from having sexual intercourse.