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Born too soon: Premature births are not a taboo


Pregnancy is an exciting time in a couple’s life. Expecting parents, wholeheartedly, wait for their newborn’s arrival before and during the course of 9 months. However, some babies arrive a little too soon.

In this article, with insights from Dr Shreya Dubey, a leading neonatologist and paediatrician in Gurgaon, we will learn about prematurity, its health impacts on the baby and their management.

About premature birth  

Prematurity or premature birth is when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. It is also known as preterm birth and is divided into three categories – extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (28 to 32 weeks) and moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks). 

Preterm birth can happen for a variety of reasons. Your risk of prematurity increases if you have:

  • Multiple pregnancies (expecting more than one baby)
  • Infections 
  • Chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension 
  • Genetic problems 

Impact on child’s health 

Prematurity heightens the risk of health concerns in a newborn. It increases your newborn’s risk of developing complications such as learning and visual disabilities, risk of infections and breathing difficulties. Therefore, preterm birth is often considered taboo in our society. 

However, there is an urgent need for awareness and understanding among expecting parents regarding this taboo. While it is true that prematurity increases your child’s risk of health difficulties, there are several treatment protocols available to offer an effective and timely remedy to these problems. 

Thanks to the various advances in medical science, it is possible to not only treat but prevent the complications associated with prematurity. 

Preterm babies are given comprehensive, compassionate care in advanced surroundings. Hospital infrastructure, today, are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and modular units such as Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Through this, the neonatology team is able to meet the baby’s unique medical needs at the right time. 

The advanced medical care units offer a wide range of services including mechanical ventilation, intravenous nutrition and artificial surfactant for babies with complex medical problems. The treatment alternatives vary depending upon the symptoms, age and general health of the newborn. 

Preventing premature birth 

Today, medical experts are able to identify and understand the causes of prematurity and build specialised care protocols. The ideal preventive measure is to understand these causes before or during the course of pregnancy and labour.

Expecting mothers should seek a tailor-made antenatal care routine that offers end-to-end support. Your antenatal program should include advanced prenatal tests and screenings, comprehensive counselling and guidance regarding your birthing plan. Some expert-approved ways through which you can prevent prematurity include: 

  • Avoid smoking
  • Learn about your risk of preterm labour
  • Understand the symptoms and treatment of preterm labour

Prematurity is highly prevalent across the globe. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly 3,519,100 preterm babies are born in India each year. The high incidence also corresponds to the evolving treatment measures. 

Prematurity should no longer be considered taboo as there is a wide range of management and care protocols to heed to preterm babies. Preterm babies can have a nourishing life with the right guidance and timely intervention of a skilled neonatologist. 

For more information on child health, book an appointment with Dr Shreya Dubey at the CK Birla Hospital.

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