Babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered a premature baby. While in pregnancy the phrase” It is worth the wait” is true, sometimes babies do arrive earlier than expected. These are a few surprising facts about premature babies:
- The closer a premature baby is to full term gestational period, the lesser are the complications.
- Premature babies are evaluated according to their “adjusted date”- which is their chronological age minus the difference between their due date and the date they were born.
- Premature babies achieve their motor skill milestones concurrently with their full term peers, once you account for adjusted age. Cognitive milestones are also rarely different from full term babies. This makes the adjusted age less relevant as they grow older.
- Premature babies are so small; they are weighed in grams rather than ounces. They catch up in size in the first year.
- Premature baby has little fat for insulation. Therefore temperature regulation is one of the biggest challenges for them. Struggling to maintain a higher body temperature on their own may deplete their nutritional and energy resources, so incubators are standard treatments for them.
- Breast milk is the ideal nourishment for them as they often suffer from gastrointestinal problems. If that is not viable, then formula can be administered to them through a bottle.
- The ability to breathe, digest food and weight are used as the three indicators of progress for a premature baby.
- Since premature babies are at higher risk of complications and from infections to permanent disabilities, the time spent in Neo Intensive Care Unit ( NICU) is really important to them. So you will have to hold on to your urge to just take them home.
- Phototherapy is one of the treatments used in NICU to help your baby cope with jaundice and elevated levels of bilirubin- a common occurrence in premature babies.
- When your premature baby is shifted to their crib from the incubator, it is time to rejoice. This means that they are able to maintain their required body temperature and thus are closer to going home.
- You might sometimes get the impression that your premature baby is not growing as fast as their full term peers. Do not worry. This difference vanishes quickly as they grow.
- The adjusted age phenomena might once again raise its ugly head when you start considering when to start kindergarten for them. Go with your own instincts. Sometimes they are ready. Sometimes it is better to wait some more.
With the advances made in technology is now possible to deliver a healthy premature baby without risks. Except for the initial precautions your baby is as ready as any other to forage into this world.