November is Premature Infant Awareness Month

premature baby lies on dad’s chest

Our littlest of littles are being celebrated this month! November is Premature Infant Awareness Month and thankfully, this month is full of good news about improvements in medical care and outcomes for these beautiful babies. Alzein Pediatrics is here to help increase awareness – and celebrate all our wonderful preterm infants.

How often does premature birth occur?
About 10% of all births in the United States are premature pregnancies, in line with the global rate of 10.6% of all births.

Which infants are considered premature or preterm?
The technical definition of a premature birth is any birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy. However, this umbrella term doesn’t distinguish the range of experiences and outcomes across all premature births. Experts classify Late Preterm as babies born between 34-37 weeks of pregnancy. Moderately Preterm babies are born between 29-33 weeks of pregnancy and Extremely Preterm infants are born between 23-28 weeks of pregnancy.  There are significant health and development differences between each one of this classifications and individual infants.

What are the health and development ramifications for premature infants?
The earlier a baby arrives, the less time they have had to develop in utero. Scientists have identified important brain, lung, and liver development that occurs in the final weeks of pregnancy, and have developed a range of treatment options to help premature infants overcome these deficits. Children born Extremely Preterm will require more assistance to develop more bodily function and ability than those born Late Preterm and Extremely Preterm infants are at a higher risk of significant but treatable heart conditions that may require immediate intervention. At any stage, premature infants may need medical care to maintain body temperature or assist breathing or feeding.

What is the long-term impact of premature birth?
According to research, 95% of premature infants survive to adulthood. This is wonderful news! Studies examined the quality of life for premature infants into adulthood, and there is evidence that most of these infants grow up to be adults who are not significantly trailing their peers.

Depending upon the time of prematurity, some of these infants have an increased risk for Cerebral palsy, developmental delay or learning disorders, vision/hearing problems, and asthma, and are more likely to suffer lung and heart issues.

How can premature infants be assured of the best outcomes and quality of life?
If your ob/gyn, midwife or doula thinks you may have your baby prematurely, make an appointment with Alzein Pediatrics. We’ll want you to thoroughly understand any testing or screenings your newborn may require, care options and recommendations to help your baby eat and breathe safely. We’ll talk about any medications, interventions or therapies your child might need. We can also direct you to support groups and resources in the area that can help your whole family understand what’s happening to its newest member.

Your premature child may soon come home from the hospital and seamlessly enter your family. Other infants may require a longer hospital care, at-home monitoring and extended care before you feel confident in introducing them to extended family and friends. Rest assured that Alzein Pediatrics will be with you, caring for your baby, answering your questions and providing support for your family, every step of way.

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