What are the causes of premature births?
There are many reasons for premature births. If the mother has health issues like diabetes, is hypertensive, malnourished, anaemic or has intra-uterine infections, suffers from general weakness or has chromosomal abnormality or some congenital abnormality, then the baby could be born prematurely.
How are babies born prematurely?
It could happen because the placental attachment to the mother may be infected or separated prematurely. It could also be because the contraction of the uterus occurs earlier than expected. This could be also because of hormonal imbalance.
How far is it possible for a premature baby to lead a normal life?
It all depends upon the gestational age. More mature the baby, better is the outcome. There is a difference between a baby whose weight at birth is 700 grams and another whose weight is 1200 grams. Higher birth weight and longer maturity of birth has better chances of survival and long term health.
The second factor is the complications a child has during birth. For example, if there are intra-cranial bleeds or the amount of resuscitation done or the time taken by a child to take the first breath…. These are factors which determine the final outcome.
Not all premature births have a negative impact. Most premature babies have a normal life.
What are the health issues that premature babies face?
Health issues at the time of birth are a different set. They develop respiratory distress syndrome or RDS because of the immaturity of the lungs. Secondly, they are more prone to develop intra cranial haemorrhages that can cause neurological impairment like developmental delays, haemophlegia, quadriplegia, spastic cerebral palsy. Thirdly, for the gut they develop what is called as necrotizing interocolitis. In a layman’s language, it means the blood supply to the intestine is less so its functioning is affected. The baby begins to pass blood in the stool. The bowel movement does not happen. In cases which are not treated in time, there could also be gangrene developing in the intestine.
Are they fatal?
It can lead to sepsis. It is an infection that could spread to the rest of the body.
How does a parent identify cerebral palsy in a new born?
Initially, parents may not be able to identify but after some time they will find the child to be more stiff than normal, like when you change the diapers the baby may not be able to separate the legs. The child may be jittery. There may be convulsions. Normally, a child will be able to develop a smile in one and a half months to two months. All these indicate that early developmental signs are delayed.
What about autism?
Generally, it is difficult to identify autism in the first year. The earliest would be between one to one and a half years. Generally, such babies socialise less, have less eye contact with the mother, are more hyperactive, rarely mingle and they will be into themselves. They will look here and there. Their speech is also delayed.