Premature Babies

Premature babies often come into this world with respiratory distress syndrome also known as RDS, this is because the protein that is known as surfactant is necessary to keep the air sacs in the lung working and premature babies lack this, so you can well imagine that this is a huge problem. Doctors give the babies surfactant to make up for what they lack naturally and to fix the breathing problem. Babies with RDS need a respirator in order for them to breathe. Sometimes they have problems breathing for up to 20 seconds at a time, breathing is often stimulated by touching the bottom of the feet or gently patting it.

To confirm the problem, doctors must first give x-rays and blood tests before proceeding. These babies are also put on a respirator to ensure continued breathing, there are some premature babies who sometimes stop breathing for at least 20 seconds, this condition is called apnea and breathing is often started again by gently patting the bottom of the child’s feet.

There are other times when bleeding in the brain occurs, this is called, intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) this usually takes place in the first three days of the baby’s life and is often discovered by an ultrasound examination. Fortunately these are usually mild, however in the rare cases where they are more severe, they may cause ventricles in the brain to expand creating pressure in the brain, this pressure leads to neurological damages which cause problems, such as, cerebral palsy and learning problems. Surgeons sometimes place a tube in the brain to drain fluid from the brain or they may use a less invasive method, such as, medications that cause the fluid to recede.

Premature babies can also develop heart problems, these heart problems are caused because an artery known as the ductus arteriosus which lets the babies blood bypass the babies developing lung in the womb, is supposed to be closed before the child is born, when this doesn’t happen medication is given to seal it. Sometimes surgery must be employed to finally seal the opening, when medication does not work.

Jaundice is often present in premature babies because their livers are not developed enough to remove waste products, one particular waste product that is difficult to be removed is bilirubin, excess bilirubin causes yellow eyes and skin. Excess bilirubin has been known to cause brain damage as well. Treatment for jaundice usually involves (phototherapy) these are lights that assist in the elimination of bilirubin.

As you have read, premature babies can face a myriad of problems, fortunately medical technology has evolved and many of these problems can be resolved and the baby has a good chance of surviving.

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