Running head: PRETERM BABIES Preterm Babies Name University Professor Course Preterm Babies Preterm babies are babies born too early and underdeveloped. Also called premature babies or preemies, preterm babies have not reached their full gestation period which is anticipated to occur between the 38th and 42nd week of pregnancy (Healthier You, 1980). There are not yet any defined symptoms and causes of a preterm birth. Thus, there is no absolute way of diagnosing or preventing preterm births. Doctors can only identify a preterm baby once it has been born and already exhibiting biological defects.
Preemies experience numerous health complications. Having had insufficient time to mature in the womb, they are noticeably smaller than normal babies and commonly have lung and liver deficiencies. They come out jaundiced and have difficulties breathing (Healthier You, 1980). Preemies may have brain hemorrhage or internal bleeding that can cause brain damage in the long run. They are also susceptible to heart, intestinal, and vision problems (Premature Birth, 2007a). Though most of these complications are treatable, there is no way to prevent the initial impact that may fatally befall the babies.
Thus, it is important to treat premature babies as soon as they born. Their fragile states require them to spend the first few months of their lives in intensive care nurseries. During this time, they will be separated from their families and placed in the care of various doctors and nurses (Healthier You, 1980). This separation can have negative effects on the parent-child relationships such as delay of building emotional attachment and confusion with how they should care for the babies.
Parents of premature babies feel disappointed that their baby turned out to be sick and abnormal instead of cute and cuddly. They may blame themselves or even feel angry at the baby. Some parents, after seeing their baby connected to countless tubes and machines, may feel helpless and incapable of caring for them. Thus, parents should visit their babies frequently to stay updated on their baby’s condition. They need to be well-informed of their child’s situation and understand what challenges they are facing with their preterm baby.
Important questions parents should be asking their doctors include knowing about medications given to the baby and how it helps, changes in their baby’s condition, and the right persons to talk to regarding providing the baby’s special needs (Premature Birth, 2007b). By asking questions and learning from the medical staff, parents decrease their nervousness and grow to be more comfortable and knowing of how they should handle and feed the baby when they bring him or her home. According to Minde, having a preterm baby can cause mothers to have mood swings (cited in Healthier You, 1980).
They may have intense postpartum depression alternating with joy and relief having finished delivery. It is vital that parents have emotional support and even counseling if they are really having difficulties coping with a preterm baby. They could also get information from groups such as the March of Dimes Foundation. Preterm babies may act and look different from full-term babies in their first year, but in most cases, these differences fade as they grow older (Healthier You, 1980). Though they experienced health set-backs as babies, most preemies grow up to be as mentally and physically capable as normal children.
Studies suggest that preemies can significantly enhance their mental capacities in their early years if they are in a good, supportive environment (McCook, 2003). As such, preemies can receive the same kind of education normal children do. However, preemies who have intense brain hemorrhaging may have injured their brains and nervous systems (McCook, 2003). Unfortunately, they may have permanently damaged their mental capacities, causing them to be unable to learn or perform as good academically like normal kids.
According to Carter (2001), it is still helpful for those who were prematurely born to be under a health follow-up program as they still have a higher risk of acquiring developmental deficiencies that could lead to devastating diseases such cerebral palsy, retardation, and various sensory handicaps. The Abbreviated Denver Developmental Screening Test and Revised Parent Developmental Questionnaire are general tests that can be administered by pediatricians to children (Carter, 2001).
Most tests evaluate children’s age against their mental, language, motor, and social skills (Baby-Parenting, 2008). Keeping track of a prematurely born child’s growth is essential to knowing and caring for him or her to reach his or her full potential. It is vital to note that the environment they are in can help him or her overcome the biological disadvantages that he or she experiences. Those who are able to surpass the limitations and effects that their being prematurely born gave them can grow and experience life like normal children.
References Baby-Parenting. (2008). Assessment of a Premature Child’s Skills. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://www. baby-parenting. com/baby/premature_baby. html. Carter. S. L. (2001). Developmental follow-up of pre-term infants at high risk for delays. Comel Unity. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://www. comeunity. com/premature/followup. html. Healthier You. (1980). Pre-term babies. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://www. healthieryou. com/preterm. html. McCook, A. (2007, July 8).
Most preemies’ mental abilities improve with age. Reuters Health. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from The Child Advocate: http://www. childadvocate. net/premature_babies_intelligence. htm. Premature Birth. (2007a, May). Complications in the newborn. March of Dimes Foundation. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://www. marchofdimes. com/prematurity/21191_6306. asp. Premature Birth. (2007b, Sep). Becoming an informed parent. March of Dimes Foundation. Retrieved February 13, 2009 from http://www. marchofdimes. com/prematurity/21295_6084. asp.