A premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby's estimated due date. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy.
Premature babies, especially those born very early, often have complicated medical problems. Typically, complications of prematurity vary. But the earlier your baby is born, the higher the risk of complications.
Depending on how early the baby was born, here are the classifications:
- Late preterm, born between 34 and 36 completed weeks of pregnancy
- Moderately preterm, born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy
- Very preterm, born at less than 32 weeks of pregnancy
- Extremely preterm, born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy
Some signs of prematurity include the following:
- Small size, with a disproportionately large head
- Sharper looking, less rounded features than a full-term baby's features, due to a lack of fat stores
- Fine hair (lanugo) covers much of the body
- Low body temperature, especially immediately after birth in the delivery room, due to a lack of stored body fat
- Labored breathing or respiratory distress
- Lack of reflexes for sucking and swallowing, leading to feeding difficulties
Often, the specific cause of premature birth isn't clear. However, there are known risk factors of premature delivery, including:
- Having a previous premature birth
- Pregnancy with twins, triplets, or other multiples
- Smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs
- Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
- Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or domestic violence
While not all premature babies experience complications, being born too early can cause short-term and long-term health problems. Generally, the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. Birth weight plays an important role, too.
- Heart problems. The most common heart problems premature babies experience are patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and low blood pressure (hypotension). PDA is a persistent opening between the aorta and pulmonary artery. While this heart defect often closes on its own, left untreated it can lead to a heart murmur, heart failure as well as other complications. Low blood pressure may require adjustments in intravenous fluids, medicines, and sometimes blood transfusions.
- Blood problems. Premature babies are at risk of blood problems such as anemia and newborn jaundice. Anemia is a common condition in which the body doesn't have enough red blood cells. While all newborns experience a slow drop in red blood cell count during the first months of life, the decrease may be greater in premature babies. Newborn jaundice is a yellow discoloration in a baby's skin and eyes that occurs because the baby's blood contains excess bilirubin, a yellow-colored substance, from the liver or red blood cells. While there are many causes of jaundice, it is more common in preterm babies.
- Immune system problems. An underdeveloped immune system, common in premature babies, can lead to a higher risk of infection. Infection in a premature baby can quickly spread to the bloodstream, causing sepsis, an infection that spreads to the bloodstream.
- Behavioral and psychological problems. Children who experienced premature birth may be more likely than full-term infants to have certain behavioral or psychological problems, as well as developmental delays.
- Chronic health issues. Premature babies are more likely to have chronic health issues — some of which may require hospital care — than are full-term infants. Infections, asthma, and feeding problems are more likely to develop or persist. Premature infants are also at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Although the exact cause of preterm birth is often unknown, there are some things that can be done to help women, especially those who have an increased risk to reduce their risk of preterm birth, including:
Progesterone supplements. Women who have a history of preterm birth, a short cervix, or both factors may be able to reduce the risk of preterm birth with progesterone supplementation.
Regularly control blood hemoglobin levels. Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy is also associated with having a low birth weight baby and postpartum depression. Taking a prenatal vitamin that contains iron can help prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. In some cases, your healthcare provider might recommend a separate iron supplement. During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron a day. Good nutrition can also prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Dietary sources of iron include lean red meat, poultry, and fish. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and peas. It should also be balanced with a routine to check Hemoglobin. Examination of Hemoglobin makes it easier for us to monitor the incidence of anemia, therefore, PT Isotekindo Intertama has a device that can assist you in checking Hemoglobin.
PT Isotekindo Intertama provides a POCT (Point Of Care Test) tool for checking Hemoglobin levels in the blood which is practical and convenient to use because it only requires a small sample (1µL). This is the first biosensor technology for screening hemoglobin In Indonesia, using HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter.
The features and other benefits are:
- HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter only requires 1μL of blood. The measuring range is wide, 4.0-24.0 g/dL. The wide measurement range will make the HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter very easy to monitor hemoglobin in both low and high conditions
- HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter only takes 5 seconds, HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter can read hemoglobin in the blood in a very short time making it more efficient.
- HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter with a small sample volume of 1µL whole blood. With a very small sample size and using whole blood cells, the HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter can show an accurate profile of hemoglobin in the blood, thus guaranteeing excessive pain in blood test sampling.
- American Birth Association (2022). Premature Birth Complication
- Insert Pack HemoSmart GOLD Hemoglobin Screening Meter
- Mayo Clinic (2020). Premature Birth