Premature births and what you should know

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premature births

Premature births are those that happen before the 37th week of pregnancy. In general, if a birth happens 3 weeks before the estimated due birth date, that would be identified as a premature birth.

Can premature births cause issues?

Yes, well, to the majority extent at least. Premature babies are known to have complicated medical issues, especially if they are born very early than planned. The nature of the complication may vary but the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk will be.

Classification of premature births

Depending on how early a baby is born, he or she may be:

  • 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

Most premature births occur in the late preterm stage.

Symptoms of premature birth complications

Depending upon the level of prematurity and other factors, the baby may have very obvious symptoms or very mild ones.

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 that covers the majority of their body
  • Low body temperature especially, immediately after birth, brought on by lack of stored food
  • Labored breathing or respiratory distress
  • Lack of reflexes for sucking and swallowing, leading to feeding difficultiespremature births

The following tables show the median birth weight, length and head circumference of premature babies at different gestational ages for each sex.

Weight, length and head circumference by gestational age for boys
Gestational age Weight Length Head circumference
40 weeks 7 lbs., 15 oz.
(3.6 kg)
20 in. (51 cm) 13.8 in. (35 cm)
35 weeks 5 lbs., 8 oz.
(2.5 kg)
18.1 in. (46 cm) 12.6 in. (32 cm)
32 weeks 3 lbs., 15.5 oz.
(1.8 kg)
16.5 in. (42 cm) 11.6 in. (29.5 cm)
28 weeks 2 lbs., 6.8 oz.
(1.1 kg)
14.4 in. (36.5 cm) 10.2 in. (26 cm)
24 weeks 1 lb., 6.9 oz.
(0.65 kg)
12.2 in. (31 cm) 8.7 in. (22 cm)

 

Weight, length and head circumference by gestational age for girls
Gestational age Weight Length Head circumference
40 weeks 7 lbs., 7.9 oz.
(3.4 kg)
20 in. (51 cm) 13.8 in. (35 cm)
35 weeks 5 lbs., 4.7 oz.
(2.4 kg)
17.7 in. (45 cm) 12.4 in. (31.5 cm)
32 weeks 3 lbs., 12 oz.
(1.7 kg)
16.5 in. (42 cm) 11.4 in. (29 cm)
28 weeks 2 lbs., 3.3 oz.
(1.0 kg)
14.1 in. (36 cm) 9.8 in. (25 cm)
24 weeks 1 lb., 5.2 oz.
(0.60 kg)
12.6 in. (32 cm) 8.3 in. (21 cm)
premature births
Special care after birth

Your baby may need to stay in hospital a little longer if they are preterm. They could either be admitted to the nursery care unit or the neonatal intensive care unit depending on how much attention they require. Don’t worry and panic. Your baby will be fine. You will have experts working and looking out for them all day and night and you will be around too.

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