Conditions of Premature Babies

Saturday, December 4th, 2010 No Commented
Categorized Under: Critical Care

Premature babies, or preemies, are born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Since they are born too early, they weigh much less than full-term babies. Their organs are not yet develop, causing them to have health problems and thus they need special and close monitoring in a NICU or neonatal intensive care unit by a neonatologist to assess their medical condition. Babies are discharged out of NICU when their organs are already developed.

Since organs of premature babies are not fully developed, they may have the following conditions: apnea of prematurity (AOP)-a condition which premature infants stop breathing for 15 to 20 seconds during sleep; bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD)-is a serious lung condition that affects premature infants needing oxygen therapy; intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH)-is bleeding inside or around the ventricles, the spaces in the brain containing cerebral spinal fluid; necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)-a gastrointestinal disease involving infection and inflammation that causes destruction of the bowel or part of the bowel; patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)- a heart problem that characterized by the occurrence of abnormal blood flow between the two major arteries connected to the heart; periventricular leukomalacia (PLV)-is characterized by the death of the white matter of the brain due to softening of the brain tissue which is brought about by the lack of oxygen or blood flow to the periventricular area of the brain; respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)- is brought about by immature lungs which cannot produce enough surfactant. Surfactant is a liquid coating that allows lungs to open and not to collapse while breathing; retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)-occurs when abnormal blood vessels grow and spread throughout the retina which causes scarring and pulling out of the retina in position that further leads to visual impairment and blindness; transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN)-a lung condition which causes newborns’ breathing during the first hour of life more rapid and labored than normal; very low birth weight-babies who are born weighing less than 1,500 grams (3 pounds, 4 ounces).

Feeding becomes the most important during babies’ stay in the NICU to ensure growth and development, therefore breastfeeding is encouraged. Breast milk has a lot of benefits for babies especially for premature and sick ones. However, premature babies aren’t ready to suck yet. They are feed through a tube. Mothers should learn how to pump their milk so it can be delivered by tube to the babies’ stomach.

Parents having premature babies are often worried, may feel anxiety and confusion; not only because of the medical condition of their babies but also because of the various equipment in the NICU that may threaten them about their babies. Some of the common reactions by parents are fear, anger, guilt, loss, and powerlessness. Talking with the NICU team may help reduce the discomfort. It will help in understanding babies’ conditions and needs as well as of the parents’ conditions and capacity to handle the situation therein. Through this, they can set their level of expectations and cope with the NICU experience.