The Most Common Complications of Premature Births The risk of complications increases the earlier the baby is the development of a premature baby. Most babies have mature lungs by 36 weeks of gestation.
However, since babies develop at different rates, there are exceptions to this. If a mother and her health care provider know that the baby might be coming early, an amniocentesis may be performed to check the maturity level of the lungs. Transient tachypnea is rapid shallow breathing. This can occur in both premature babies as well as full term babies. Recovery usually takes three days or less. Until the newborn has recovered, feedings may be altered, and in some cases intravenous feedings may be done.
There is usually no other treatment necessary. Preemies that have been on a respirator for more than twenty-eight days are at risk of developing BPD. Preemies can recover from this condition but some take longer to recover than others. Complications with premature-related respiratory problems can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in the area of the lung involved in the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
It causes inflammation, which reduces the amount of space available for the exchange of air. This can result in inadequate amounts of oxygen for the baby. Treatment can include antibiotics, supplemental oxygen and intubation. Apnea is the absence of breathing. In the NICU an alarm will sound if a newborn develops an irregular breathing pattern of pauses longer than 10-15 seconds. Bradycardia is the reduction of heart rate. An alarm will also sound if the newborn’s heart rate falls below 100 beats per minute.
Usually a little tap or simple rub on the back helps remind the preemie to breath and also increases the heart rate. A premature baby might not be able to resist certain infections. For its own protection the baby is placed in an incubator to provide protection against these infections. A yellowish skin color caused by the buildup of substances in the blood called bilirubin.
Treatment involves being placed under a bilirubin light. The procedure can take from one week to 10 days. Babies born sooner than 34 weeks have an increased risk of bleeding in the brain because immature blood vessels might not tolerate the changes in circulation that took place during labor. This can lead to future complications such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and learning difficulties. If preterm labor is identified and is inevitable, there are medications that can be given to the mother to help reduce the risk of severe intracranial hemorrhage in the newborn. A premature baby is born with little body fat and immature skin, which makes it harder to maintain body heat. Treatment involves incubators to provide warmth.
Premature newborns are born with gastrointestinal systems that are too immature to absorb nutrients effectively. This is a medical condition caused by abnormally low concentrations of red blood cells. Red blood cells are important because they carry a substance called hemoglobin, which carries oxygen. Most newborns should have red blood cell levels higher than 15 grams. However, preemies are at a high risk of having lower levels. This is a cardiac disorder that results in breathing difficulties after delivery because of an open blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. During fetal development the ductus arteriosis is open to allow blood to be diverted from the lungs into the aorta.