babies are defined as those born between twenty-four and thirty
seven weeks of gestation. The chances of survival for a baby
born before twenty-four weeks of pregnancy are rather thin.
These babies need to be cared and treated with special care
and caution since their chances of survival are slim as their
body organ are not fully developed. The smaller and less mature
the premature baby is at birth, the greater will be its problems
in the long run. These babies can develop mental retardation,
learning disorders, vision, and speech and hearing disorders.
The common problems linked with premature
- They are more susceptible to
infection and thus can suffer from any disease, which can
lead to severe problems.
- There is a greater likelihood
of contracting jaundice and these babies are more vulnerable
to its effects.
- They face a very high risk of
bleeding in the brain leading to the development of hydrocephalus.
- They are susceptible to respiratory
distress syndrome. Premature babies have difficulty in gas
exchange as a result of protein and fluid collection within
the small air sacs and this can lead to death of the child
- They also face congenital defects,
including those that affect the heart.
babies are put straight into intensive care and require round-the-clock
nursing. They are usually kept in incubators. They are fed
intravenously and if necessary put on the respirator to help
them breath. They have to be monitored round the clock in
order to check their vital signs like blood pressure, heart
rate, breathing and pulse. They are kept in the incubators
as long as they are not out of danger and even after discharge
from the hospital, these babies will require periodic evaluations
from paediatricians, neonatologists, ophthalmologists and
The advances in neonatal care have however increased the chances
of survival of premature babies with more and more of such
babies surviving however what cannot be said is the quality
of their life and whether these babies will live a healthy
life or not. The babies that survive may be severely handicapped
both physically as well as mentally. It is a very difficult
for the parents as well as the doctor knowing that the baby
though may survive will be severely handicapped. At the same
time, it is very difficult for both parents and doctors to
take a decision to let the baby die. Parents should try to
keep in mind that deciding to save the baby could be a cruel
decision if the baby is going to be severely handicapped since
it will be very difficult for the child to live such a life
as well as parents should also think as to who will take care
of them when they are not around.