'Keep us alive' - the Preemies


By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi




After conception, every pregnant woman becomes anxious of when she will have her baby in her hands. The doctors call it the expected date for delivery or the expected due date (EDD). This is calculated from her last menstrual period (LMP) and/or confirmed by an ultrasound scan. If she gives birth to the child in more than three weeks before the EDD, she is said to have had a premature birth and the child is referred to as a preterm baby.
A preterm baby has not spent the usual amount of time to fully develop in the womb before coming out. This may result in qualities or complications such as-

  • ·         A large head with small body size.

  • ·         Difficulty in breathing.

  • ·         Difficulty in feeding.

  • ·         Gastrointestinal, heart and blood problems

  • ·         Fine hair covering most part of the body etcetera.

Though the cause of premature birth may not always be clear, various factors increase the risk of having it. The risk factors include poor nutrition, being overweight or underweight before pregnancy, stress, trauma, use of alcohol or illicit drugs, smoking, multiple miscarriages or abortion, multiple pregnancy etcetera. A pregnant woman who has not been exposed to any risk factor may also have a premature birth. Also, the doctor might need to deliver a child early due to concerns over the health of the mother and child.
Due to an incomplete maturity within the womb, some complications may arise over time. These include vision, hearing, dental and behavioural problems and chronic health issues. Therefore, a preterm baby requires a lot of care and protection. This requires prompt vaccinations, care in feeding and hygiene and a good health monitor.
The baby is taken care of by being placed in an incubator and may be fed through an intravenous tube. Blood may be transfused if need be and the child may be placed under bilirubin light to treat jaundice. Some other medications will be administered to promote maturing and stimulate functioning of organs such as the lungs, heart and eyes.

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