Prematurity Awareness Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

Over 200,000 of the babies born each year in the United States are born prematurely. Prematurity is defined as birth before 37 weeks gestational age. That would make the baby at least three weeks early, sometimes much earlier. The earlier a baby is born, generally, the more medical problems it has. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, please schedule your appointment with one of our OBGYN in Snellville, GA

What are the symptoms of prematurity?

  • Weight and length are decreased in comparison to those of a full-term infant. The head circumference may be normal, making the head look large.
  • The fine hair or lanugo that covers the body of the fetus from about 16 weeks gestational age becomes thickest at about 28 weeks when it starts to decrease. Most babies at term will have little or none left.
  • The infant will be thin. The full-term baby stores up fat before birth and comes out looking round and chubby.
  • Because of the lack of fat stores, the baby may have trouble maintaining its core temperature. 
  • Some reflexes, such as sucking and swallowing, may not have developed yet, causing feeding difficulties.
  • If the infant is less than 34 weeks GA at birth, it may develop respiratory distress because the lungs are not mature yet.

What are the causes of prematurity?

The causes are often not identifiable. But women with certain risk factors are more likely to give birth prematurely.

  • History of previous premature birth.
  • Pregnancy with two or more fetuses.
  • History of smoking or illicit drug use.
  • Infections within the genitourinary system.
  • Intrauterine or cervical problems.
  • History of weight problems prior to the pregnancy - either underweight or overweight.
  • History of previous miscarriages or abortions.
  • Trauma.
  • Chronic disease in the mother.
  • Lack of women's healthcare for the mother.

A premature baby has problems in the period just after birth. They may require a stay in a neonatal ICU. The baby may need to be intubated and placed on a ventilator to breathe. Or it may need feeding tubes that are placed through the nose into the stomach. Nutrients are given via this tube if the baby cannot swallow. The baby may also develop jaundice or infections. 

These short term problems generally resolve.

Long term complications may affect the child for the rest of its life.

  • Cerebral palsy - CP affects muscle tone and coordination, balance and the ability to walk. The child may have muscle spasms with the need for braces and walking aids.
  • Retinopathy of prematurity - This is a condition in which the blood vessels in the retina become swollen. The swelling can pull the retina away from the back of the eye, causing retinal detachment or scarring. The child may develop decreased vision or blindness.
  • Hearing loss - Hearing is tested before the baby is discharged from the hospital.
  • Dental abnormalities - The teeth may come in mal-aligned, discolored, or delayed.
  • Decreased cognitive function - The baby may have special needs, from mild to severe.

Schedule Your Appointment With Gwinnett OB/GYN Today

Every woman who is either pregnant or planning on a pregnancy should learn about prematurity and what she can do to prevent it. In Snellville, GA, Gwinnett OB/GYN is serious about women's healthcare. We will evaluate you and offer you the advice and information that you need to get through a healthy pregnancy. Our services at Gwinnett OB/GYN are extensive, and our staff is compassionate. If you are in the Snellville, GA area, schedule an appointment with one of our gynecologists today by calling (770) 972-0330

Do you have additional questions? Please contact our office today! Read our blog for more topics such as additional information regarding breastfeeding as well as exercising during pregnancy.

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