How To Prevent Common Problems For Premature Babies

Problems for premature babies

Problems for premature babies (also called preterm babies or preemies) are not only very common, but they also cost billions of dollars per year and much heartache for parents.  

Modern medical technology can save babies be born as early as at 24 weeks (but rarely earlier).

I've been seeing a little boy for a long time now. He was born at 24 weeks, and shows a few of the problems listed below. Of course, these problems cause all sorts of development problems... thus the need for therapy.  

There are several things that can happen to a preterm baby after birth that can cause lifelong problems for the growing child, even after he or she is out of the woods and is growing properly.

Common problems for premature babies

Ventricular bleeding
One of these problems is a ventricular hemorrhage (bleeding).  Such a hemorrhage occurs deep within the brain and is a result of the fragile blood vessels inside the brains of these babies.  Babies can die of ventricular hemorrhages or they can resolve.  

Cerebral palsy is just one of the complications of ventricular hemorrhages in babies.  This causes speech and movement abnormalities in the child, who can become bed or wheelchair-bound.  It is a condition for which there is no cure.

Breathing difficulties
Breathing difficulties are another common problem in premature babies.  Sometimes they need to be on a ventilator that breathes for them just after birth until their muscles are strong enough to breathe on their own.  In some cases, the breathing normalizes and they have no further breathing problems.

Other times, the child develops lung damage from being on a ventilator for too long and needs to have supplemental oxygen and breathing medications. The problem sometimes takes care of itself and other times, it persists and the child has breathing problems similar to asthma for a long time.  

Blindness
Blindness is a less common cause of premature birth.  Babies born prematurely need supplemental oxygen to help them get enough oxygen into their blood stream.  Oxygen, however, is damaging to the lungs and it causes a permanent blindness in one or both eyes of the child.  

This complication is less common now that doctors are vigilant about checking for the condition as the child develops in the incubator.

In my mind, these problems for premature babies are just the obvious ones.

Over the years I've seen countless preemies with more subtle development problems... especially perceptually and learning related. My suggestion would be to take specific action to stimulate and encourage your preemie's overall development.

What to do to prevent prematurity

Fortunately there are things moms can do to prevent prematurity, and thus problems for premature babies...

Look at your history
If a mother has had a premature child before, she is likely to have a premature child a second time.  This means she must be very aware of the signs and symptoms of a premature birth, such as bleeding, a back ache, cramp and other symptoms that can mean a premature birth is imminent.  A mother can then go on bed rest and can be protected from having another preterm birth.

Stop smoking
Moms who smoke are at risk for a premature birth.  Smoking practically doubles a woman's risk of having a low birth weight infant.  In the US, about 12 percent of babies born to smoking women were of low birth weight as compared to 7 percent of nonsmokers.  Stopping smoking during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do to prevent premature births.

Get regular care
Seeking regular obstetric care and taking care of chronic conditions is another good way to prevent premature birth.  Diseases like maternal diabetes and high blood pressure can contribute to premature birth and must be kept in good control.  Carefully working with your obstetrician is a good way to remain healthy and to prevent the secondary complication of preterm birth.

Despite these problems for premature babies, you can do a lot to stimulate and encourage your child's intellectual development