A premature infant is a baby born before 37 weeks gestation. Premature babies are at increased risk of breathing problems, low cognitive ability, blindness, deafness and even death.
There are many possibilities that can help to predict which pregnancies are at risk for premature delivery. Some of the risk factors may increase chances of premature baby include:
• Multiple gestation pregnancies.
• Having high or low level of amniotic fluid.
• Urinary tract infection during pregnancy.
• Maternal smoking or use of illicit drugs.
• Maternal malnutrition.
• Having high level stress and obesity.
• Lack of prenatal care.
• Pregnancy in young age.
• Problems with the fetus can also lead to a premature delivery.
• Previous delivery of premature baby.
• History of diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, fibroids and high blood pressure.
Most premature births are caused by spontaneous preterm labor, spontaneous premature rupture of the membranes, problem with uterus, untreated diseases such as urinary tract infection.
Complications that are more likely in premature are respiratory distress syndrome, low birth weight, intraventricular hemorrhage, patent ductus arteriosus, necrotizing enterocolitis, retinopathy of prematurity, jaundice, anemia, autism, chronic lung disease and infections.
Breast milk is an ultimate source to premature babies for growth.
Treatment with corticosteroid drugs increase maturation of fetal lungs and significantly reduce the risk of RDS, IVH and infant death and treatment with tocolytics called magnesium sulfate that may postpone labor.
Premature birth can be prevented by maintaining prenatal care as early as possible in the pregnancy, and to continue care until the baby is born. Premature labor can sometimes be treated or delayed by a medication that blocks uterine contractions.