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Micro Preemie: Everything You Need To Know About their Health Concerns And Survival Rates

Micro Preemie: Everything You Need To Know About their Health Concerns

In the below article, we explain to you the health issues that a micro-preemie, a baby born before 26 weeks of gestation encounters. Read on to know more about it.

Have you heard about micro-preemie? No? Then, here we tell you what exactly it means. You must be aware that a premature baby is born before 37 weeks gestation. But, do you know that a micro-preemie is a baby weighing less than 750 grams, born before 26 weeks gestation, and tends to spend a lot of time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Micro preemies have very thin skin, their veins are visible. When they are kept in the NICU, they usually need respiratory support. There often have endotracheal tubes (ET tubes) coming from their mouths that will aid in breathing, and some may also have continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks strapped over their noses. In case the digestive system of the baby doesn't develop fully they will be fed intravenously.

Are you aware? The preemies have stickers on their chests, feet, wrists, arms, and legs, and their blood pressure, breathing rates, and oxygen levels in the blood are monitored from time to time. Furthermore, there are certain health problems that are commonly seen in these babies which can be present for a shorter duration or even a longer time.

Short Term Health Issues

  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC): Since the micro-preemies digestive system is not developed fully, their intestines are prone to infections. Yes, you have heard us here! If the baby has NEC then the linings of the bowels are infected and start getting swollen and necrosed. This condition can be dealt with through medications and sometimes surgery as recommended by the doctor.
  • Intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH): Micro preemies tend to have fragile blood vessels in the brains, that tend to rupture easily. Hence, the babies will need monitoring with regular ultrasound of the brain and in certain cases, they may need surgery to overcome this problem.
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): That means having breathing difficulties after they are born. This syndrome is managed via respiratory support and medications such as a surfactant.
  • Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP): The blood vessels of the baby's eyes are not fully formed at birth. When the vessels are formed, they may grow rapidly, and damage the retina. Hence, the babies will have to undergo laser therapy or injections in the eyes after consulting an ophthalmologist expert.

Long-Term Health Issues

  • Chronic lung disease: Micro preemies lungs may continue to develop slowly in a few months after birth and they may encounter issues like breathing difficulty, asthma etc.
  • Poor cognitive health: Micro preemies may not achieve their developmental milestones of his/her age and may need supportive therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy.
  • Digestive issues: Like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or poor feeding. are also seen in the babies.
  • Eye or hearing problems: There can be permanent vision or hearing problems because of prematurity.

However, there is good news that owing to the latest advancement in the treatment, the survival rates of micro-preemie have improved.

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The last word: It will be imperative for you to speak to the doctor regarding premature birth, once you conceive. Seeking early care can help you avoid premature delivery.

(The article is contributed by Dr Suresh Birajdar, Neonatologist & Pediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar)

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