A premature birth is a very sensitive and serious issues. The premature baby needs utmost medical care and attention. This makes it important for us to understand just how vulnerable premature babies are to health problems. Here is a list of possible effects of premature birth on a child.
Are you expecting the stork to visit you soon? Having a normal pregnancy is not the only concern of would be parents. The birth of a healthy child after completing the minimum gestation period of 37 weeks is important because premature births have serious long term effects. With approximately half a million premature births taking place around the world each year, this is not an uncommon feature. There are some long term implications associated with premature births. Some of them have been listed below for your reference.
Premature Birth Health Problems
- A cardiovascular problem known as PDA or patent ductus arteriosus which generally refers to the ductus arteriosus remaining open even after childbirth. Prematurely born children are highly prone to problems like hypertension, diabetes and heart problems in their adulthood.
- Chronic lung diseases and infections such as BPD or bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome. This is on account of underdevelopment of lungs.
- There are some neurological problems such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, apnea, cerebral palsy, developmental disability, intraventricular hemorrhages. Some babies tend to experience brain bleeds as well. Severe brain bleeding has often proved to be fatal. There have been reports of preemies suffering from learning disorders, autism, thyroid problems, etc. Mental retardation is a commonly observed effect of premature birth.
- Common hematological problems in preemies include thrombocytopenia, anemia, jaundice or hyperbilirubinemia which is most likely to lead to kernicterus.
- Premature babies face long term growth related issues such as abnormally low height or below average overall growth rate.
- Some metabolic and gastrointestinal problems occurring in premature babies include inguinal hernia, hypocalcemia, rickets, necrotizing enterocolitis, hypoglycemia, etc. Premature babies have been observed to face difficulty in feeding due to insufficient energy to suck and gulp milk. An alternative to this problem is usage of feeding tubes.
- Children born between 22nd and 27th week of pregnancy are more susceptible to infant mortality and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- Experts state that prematurely born children face reproduction problems as adults. They have only 25% chances of procreating due to poor development of reproductive system.
- Some other effects include sepsis, total or partial blindness, general vision problems, urinary tract infection, behavioral, social and emotional problems, poor speech skills, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), hand eye coordination problems and lower IQ (Intelligence quotient).
A Brighter Side
Development of premature babies is slower than normal children. But I suppose that is quite expected to happen. Never compare your child’s growth, especially when he is premature with any other child of his age. Check the development stages from the actual due date of his birth rather than his premature birth date.
Not all premature babies are unwell all their life although their overall development may be slower and they might face some minor health problems from time to time. After an initial hitch of 3 years, a prematurely born child usually catches up with other normal children of his age. A study shows that at 30 months of age, approximately 50% of premature babies had absolutely no disability at all. By the time, prematurely born children reached 5 years of age, approximately 30% of these children suffered from mild health issues. Most of these children tend to have a normal academic life. Several children have reportedly had brilliant career successes too.
Parents need to exercise patience and calmness when going through the initial rough patch of premature childbirth. They need to consistently follow the medication and health advice as suggested by pediatricians and neonatal specialists.