Preterm Birth Linked to Numerous Health Problems

Preterm birthBabies born premature are still a problem for the whole world. There are numerous health problems linked to a preterm birth, which mainly affect boys more than girls. While in the womb, girls develop faster, especially the lungs, leading to fewer risks if born before 37 weeks. However, it is worth being aware of the various health problems linked to babies that are born prematurely.

Different Stages of Preterm

Before getting into the health problems, it is worth understanding the three different stages: late preterm, very preterm and extremely preterm. Those born between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy are in the first category and are the most common. Those born before 25 weeks are in the last category.

Breathing Problems for Preterm Babies

One of the biggest problems related to preterm birth is with breathing issues. The lungs will not have developed properly in most cases, especially those born before 34 weeks gestation. It can lead to oxygen and breathing technologies needing to be used as soon as the baby is born. This is more likely to affect a boy than it is a girl and boys are more at risk of death due to these breathing problems.

However, the issues do not go away shortly after birth. They can be a problem for the child’s whole life. Apnea, asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The latter is a lung condition that can lead to fluid within the lungs. It often occurs in babies born before 32 weeks.

Problems with the Brain

Among the numerous health problems linked to preterm birth are issues with the brain. This is often because the brain hasn’t had the chance to full develop yet or due to bleeding in the brain, which is more likely with babies born before 28 weeks. Operations may be needed if the bleed is too large. These can mean that children have disabilities for the rest of their lives.

Heart Defects in Babies Born Early

Those born before 30 weeks are more likely to suffer from heart and blood problems. Low blood pressure is one issue but patent duct arteriosus (PDA) is another. PDA is when the two of the main blood vessels that lead to the heart keep opening. The good news is that it usually closes on its own but it can lead to other complications if it isn’t treated. It is important to have regular medical attention.

Anemia is another issue linked to preterm births. This is when the red blood cell levels are too low, so oxygen cannot pass around the body properly. Jaundice could be another problem, where the most common symptom is the skin turning yellow. The blood usually has too much yellow pigment within the red blood cells.

Vision and Hearing Problems

The hearing and eyes won’t have had the chance to develop as much as they should have when a baby is born early. This can lead to problems with either of these senses, especially the eyes. It could be something minimal like a squint but it could also lead to blindness, deafness or sensitivity to light.

Preterm birth is linked to so many health different health problems, mainly due to the lack of development. While death is a risk, the risk is much lower than it has been in the past due to the advancement of technology. Now it is focusing on helping babies develop and learning more about why premature births occur.

By Alexandria Ingham

Mayo Clinic

Nursing Times

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