Alternate Names : Prematurity, Preterm Birth
What are the treatments for the condition?
Treatment depends on how early a baby is born and its weight at birth. Babies who are born only a few weeks early usually just need time to grow, and time to learn to feed well. They often go home after a short time in the hospital. Usually, the earlier a baby is born, the longer it will stay in the hospital, and the more treatment it will need. The earlier a baby is born, the less likely it is to survive even with the best of care. The very premature babies who do survive often have to stay in a specialized hospital for several months.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Ventilators may damage the baby's lungs. They also may cause chronic breathing problems. High levels of oxygen are sometimes needed to make sure the baby's organs get enough. This can have the side effect of damaging the blood vessels in the eyes. This in turn can cause poor vision. Certain antibiotics can cause trouble with hearing as the baby grows. Very premature babies often need to be fed through the bloodstream instead of through their guts. These babies can develop liver problems as a result.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Once the baby is able to breathe on its own, he or she will usually spend some time in the nursery to grow more before going home. When the baby reaches a certain weight, the baby can go home and the parents can try to resume a normal life. But the baby may still need more care than a baby born on time. During the first year, the parents may spend more time in doctor visits with their baby than parents of babies who are not premature.
How is the condition monitored?
Babies who are born early usually are carefully monitored, especially for the first year. Very premature babies will be seen by eye and hearing specialists. They will be taken care of by development specialists and breathing specialists. Teams of healthcare providers work together to give these babies as much care as they need to help them develop as normally as possible. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.