Caring for Premature Babies
In order to prevent premature birth, the risk factors need to be identified first.
The causes of premature birth can be :
- Multiple pregnancies
- Hypertension in pregnancy
- Diabetes in pregnancy resulting in a big baby or increased amniotic fluid causing preterm birth
Infections like urinary tract infections or even when a woman breaks her waters early giving a risk of infection can result in preterm labor. Prevention for this will be for a woman to be able to identify early any symptoms of infection such as fever or any specific urinary symptoms and consult the obstetrician immediately. Starting timely and adequate antibiotics can prevent preterm deliveries resulting from infection.
Multiple pregnancies cannot be prevented but when a woman is pregnant with multiple pregnancies, regular follow-up with the obstetrician will help. Further, if the obstetrician suspects that a woman is going to deliver prematurely, adequate steps can be put in place in anticipation of a premature baby in terms of pediatric unit stand-by and ventilator arrangements.
Hypertension if not controlled can lead to a small gestation baby. With this, there is a risk of premature delivery. Prevention here would be regular follow-ups with the obstetrician and controlling blood pressures to maintain a normal range either with lifestyle or with medications.
Diabetes in pregnancy if not well controlled can lead to a big baby or sometimes even an increased amniotic fluid. These will further distend the mother’s tummy and be a risk factor for preterm delivery. Prevention here will be regular sugar level monitoring and keeping the sugars in a normal range either with dietary modification or medication. Regular scans to monitor the baby’s weight will also help detect a big baby.
by Dr. David Foo, Consultant Paediatrician