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What to Expect with a Premature Baby

MCH_premature-baby-hand.jpgPremature means the baby is born before it has had time to fully develop or mature. The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chance that the baby will have serious health problems or not survive. Late preterm birth happens when a baby is born between 34 and 36 weeks. Even a few weeks before term, the baby’s major organs including the brain have usually not had enough time to mature, which can put the newborn at risk for serious health problems. A baby’s brain at 35 weeks weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at 40 weeks.

While medical improvements have helped increase the survival of premature infants, complications can still occur immediately after the birth and later in the child’s life. Premature birth results in permanent health problems in as many as 1 in 4 babies. According to the March of Dimes, babies born early:

- have more learning and behavior problems in childhood than babies born at 40 weeks
- are more like to have feeding problems because they can’t manage sucking, swallowing and breathing as well as full-term babies
- are likely to have breathing problems like Apnea (when a baby stops breathing)
- are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Knowing what to expect can help prepare for caring for a preterm baby. Click here for more information on caring for premature infants.

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