Most premature babies can become perfectly healthy and evolve normally in both body and mind — but only if they get specialised medical care after birth, health experts suggest.
Premature babies are those born before 37 weeks of gestation. Although some premature babies show normal growth, some may have continuing problems that adversely effect their growth and development.
“The organs of premature babies are not fully developed and they face different problems. These can be related to breathing, blood circulation, digestion, feeding, issues concerning the brain and other challenges,” Nupur Gupta, Gynecologist and Obstetrician and Director of Gurgaon’s Well Woman Clinic, told IANS.
These babies may also be prone to the risk of developing hypothermia infection, brain hemorrhage and retinopathy of prematurity.
However, timely intervention can help the baby to be healthy both physically and mentally.
The care of such babies depends upon the condition and level of prematurity at the time of birth. More than three-quarters of premature babies can be saved with feasible and cost-effective care.
“A premature baby needs special care in the form of incubator care, special intravenous nutrition (TPN – total parental nutrition), ventilator for supporting breathing problems, facility to screen fora hole in the heart and retina check-ups,” Kumar Ankur, Associate Consultant, Pediatric and Neonatalogy Department, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS.
The survival rate of the premature babies depends upon the gestation at birth. The prematurity is categorised as mild prematurity, moderate prematurity and severe prematurity.
“The rate of survival of the premature babies is approximately 75 per cent if they are mild premature plus have best medical care with a skilled neonatal care team,” Ankur added.
The treatment and type of medical interventions of premature babies also depend on their breathing. They are supported to regulate their breathing, manage body temperature, monitor feeding or if they require any specific treatment.
“The Kangaroo care and breastfeeding also play an important part in the treatment as the mother’s skin to skin contact and the nutrients present in breast milk have a great impact on the betterment of the baby’s health,” Ankur added.
The parents are also involved in this specific requirement to promote the health and outcome of the babies.
“Caring for a premature baby takes lots of care and attention. Some premature babies may require fluids given intravenously or through a feeding tube (initial stages),” Rashmi Sammi, Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Amandeep Hospital, added.
According to experts, it is better to shift where NICU care is available once one is clear that it would lead to premature delivery as the baby may need special care.
Parents of premature babies also go through a lot of emotional ups and downs.
“For parents, a premature baby takes a big toll on their emotions and can cause significant psychological trauma and even post-partum depression in some mothers. Parents who take help in coping during such situations are able to nurture their preterm newborns more efficiently,” Gupta explained.
“Make sure that as parents, your relationship with the child is close, connected and mutually enjoyable; a little bit of help will make all the difference,” Gupta concluded.