When Your Baby’s Born Prematureenparentshttps://kidshealth.org/EN/images/headers/KH_generic_header_02_2.jpgPremature infants, known as preemies, come into the world earlier than full-term infants. They have many special needs that make their care different from other babies.preemies, preemie, premature, prematurity, premature infants, premature babies, premature baby, full-term, pre-term, preterm, 37 weeks, postconceptional weeks, last menstrual period, lmp, lmps, preterm delivery, drinking alcohol during pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, taking drugs during pregnancy, poor prenatal care, not gaining enough weight, hormonal imbalance, structural abnormality of the uterus, chronic illness, infections, birth, fetuses, over 35, nicu, neonatal intensive care unit, warmth, nutrition, incubators, radiant warmers, neonatologists, necrotizing enterocolitis, nec, vitamin supplements, hyperbilirubinemia, bilirubin, jaundice, apnea, anemia, laboratory tests, low blood pressure, respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, patent ductus arteriosis, retinopathy, neonatal, neonatology, CD1Neonatology03/22/200001/01/201909/02/2019Mary L. Gavin, MD01/01/2019bba322bb-f2ec-4128-a331-b6d97eb4d544https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preemies.html/<h3>What Is Prematurity?</h3> <p>When a baby is born more than three weeks earlier than the predicted due date, that baby is called "premature." Premature babies (preemies) have not grown and developed as much as they should have before birth.</p> <h3>Why Was My Baby Born Early?</h3> <p>Most of the time, doctors don't know why babies are born early. <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/born-early.html/">When they do know</a>, it's often because a mother has a health problem during pregnancy, such as:</p> <ul> <li>diabetes (high blood sugar)</li> <li>hypertension (high blood pressure)</li> <li>heart or kidney problems</li> <li>an infection of the amniotic membranes or vaginal or urinary tracts</li> </ul> <p>Other reasons why a baby may be born early include:</p> <ul> <li>bleeding, often due to a low-lying placenta (placenta previa) or a placenta that separates from the womb (placental abruption)</li> <li>having a womb that isn't shaped normally</li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/parenting-multiples.html/">carrying more than one baby</a> (twins, triplets, or more)</li> <li>being underweight before pregnancy or not gaining enough weight during pregnancy</li> <li>mothers who smoke, use <a class="kh_anchor">drugs</a>, or <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preg-alcohol.html/">drink alcohol</a> while pregnant</li> </ul> <h3>Does My Baby Need Special Care?</h3> <p>Yes, preemies may have many special needs. Younger and smaller babies tend to have more health problems than babies born closer to their due dates. So they often need to be cared for in a <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nicu-caring.html/">neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)</a>.</p> <h3>Why Must My Baby Stay Warm?</h3> <p>Preemies don't have enough body fat to hold their body temperature. Incubators or radiant warmers keep them warm in the NICU:</p> <ul class="kh_longline_list"> <li><strong>Infant warmers:</strong> These are small beds with heaters over them to help babies stay warm while being monitored. Because they are open, they allow easy access to babies.</li> <li><strong>Incubators:</strong> These are small beds enclosed by clear, hard plastic. Temperature in the incubator is controlled to keep your baby's body temperature where it should be. Doctors, nurses, and others can give care to the baby through holes in the sides of the incubator.</li> </ul> <h3>What Are My Baby's Nutritional Needs?</h3> <p><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/breastfeed-video.html/"><strong>Breast milk</strong></a> is the best nutrition for all babies, especially preemies. Breast milk has proteins that help fight infection. Most preemies can't feed straight from the breast or bottle at first. Mothers <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/pump-and-store-video.html/">pump their breast milk</a> and it's given to babies through a tube that goes through the nose or mouth and into the stomach.</p> <p>For women who can't give breast milk, doctors may suggest giving the baby <strong>pasteurized human breast milk</strong> from a milk bank, which is a safe option.</p> <p>If you don't breast feed or pump breast milk, your baby will get <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/formulafeed-starting.html/"><strong>formula</strong></a>. Extra nutrients called <strong>fortifiers</strong> may be added to breast milk or formula. This is because preemies need more calories, proteins, and other nutrients than full-term babies do.</p> <p>Preemies are fed slowly because they can get <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nec.html/">necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)</a>, a serious intestinal problem that affects preemies.</p> <p>Some babies who are very small or very sick get their nutrition through intravenous (or IV &ndash; meaning "in the vein") feedings called <strong>total parenteral nutrition (TPN)</strong>. TPN has a special mix of nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.</p> <p>Doctors and dietitians watch the diets of preemies very carefully and make changes when needed to make sure babies get the nutrients needed to grow.</p> <h3>What Health Problems Can Happen?</h3> <p>Because their organs aren't fully ready to work on their own, preemies are at risk for health problems. In general, the more premature a baby is, the greater the chance of health problems.</p> <p>These problems include:</p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/anemia.html/">anemia</a></strong>, when babies don't have enough red blood cells</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/aop.html/">apnea</a></strong>, when a baby stops breathing for a short time; the heart rate may lower; and the skin may turn pale or blue</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/bpd.html/">bronchopulmonary dysplasia</a></strong> and <strong>respiratory distress syndrome</strong>, problems with breathing</li> <li><strong>hyperbilirubinemia</strong>, when babies have high levels of bilirubin, which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. This leads to <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/jaundice.html/">jaundice</a>, a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nec.html/">necrotizing enterocolitis</a></strong>, a serious disease of the intestines</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/patent-ductus-arteriosus.html/">patent ductus arteriosus</a></strong>, a problem with the heart</li> <li><strong><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/rop.html/">retinopathy of prematurity</a></strong>, a problem with the eye's retina</li> <li>infections that babies can get from the mother before, during, or after birth</li> </ul> <h3>What Else Should I Know?</h3> <p>Preemies often need special care after leaving the NICU, sometimes in a high-risk newborn clinic or early intervention program. Depending on their health, they may need care from specialists, such as doctors who treat problems with the <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/brain-tumors.html/">brain and nervous system</a> (neurologists), <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/eyes.html/">eyes</a> (ophthalmologists), and <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/lungs.html/">lungs</a> (pulmonologists).</p> <p>Preemies will also need to go to all doctor visits, including <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/checkups.html/">well-child checkups</a>, get <a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/vaccine.html/">vaccines</a> that all babies need to stay healthy, and have routine hearing and eye exams. As your baby grows, doctors will check:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/grownewborn.html/">your baby's growth</a></li> <li><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/development-sheets.html/">development</a>, including speech and language, learning, and motor skills</li> <li>muscle tone, strength, and reflexes</li> </ul> <h3>How Can I Cope?</h3> <p>Caring for a preemie can be more demanding than caring for a full-term baby.</p> <p><a href="https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/caregivers.html/">Take care of yourself</a> by eating well, resting when you can, and getting exercise. Spend one-on-one time with your other children when you can, and get help from others. Look for support from friends, family, and support groups. You also can get support online from groups such as:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/the-nicu.aspx">March of Dimes</a></li> <li><a href="https://grahamsfoundation.org/">Graham's Foundation</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.lifeslittletreasures.org.au/">Life's Little Treasures Foundation</a></li> <li><a href="https://handtohold.org/nicu-family-support/">Hand to Hold</a></li> </ul>Si su bebé nace prematuro Cuando un bebé nace más de tres semanas antes de la fecha prevista para el parto, se dice que es un bebé prematuro. La mayoría de las veces, los médicos no saben por qué los bebés nacen antes de tiempo. https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/es/parents/preemies-esp.html/21aa9dd1-5507-4870-bb71-52ade77dfd0d
A Guide for First-Time ParentsIf you're a first-time parent, put your fears aside and get the basics in this guide about burping, bathing, bonding, and other baby-care concerns.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/guide-parents.html/186709b2-0cb2-41a0-b9be-86c9ca129a57
Apnea of PrematurityApnea of prematurity (AOP) is a condition in which premature infants stop breathing for 15 to 20 seconds during sleep. AOP usually goes away on its own as a baby matures.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/aop.html/503fca85-080c-451d-87d9-478d9f24cebb
Bonding With Your BabyBonding, the intense attachment that develops between you and your baby, is completely natural. And it's probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/bonding.html/44b3059f-95ed-42da-9c8a-1861e13226ef
Managing Home Health CareWhen kids need intensive health care after they're discharged from the hospital, it's important that family and caregivers learn about the devices, equipment, and support they'll need.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/machine.html/ae206d4e-2f4c-4262-b079-cc247311066d
Necrotizing EnterocolitisNecrotizing enterocolitis is an intestinal disease that usually affects preemies. Medicines and therapy can help babies with NEC.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nec.html/57da9e98-5535-4d83-864e-77ed8fa46c61
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that connects two major arteries before birth and normally closes after a baby is born. If it stays open, the result is a condition called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/patent-ductus-arteriosus.html/1220a363-ed10-4541-94c6-ecb923902cd8
Pregnancy & Newborn CenterAdvice and information for expectant and new parents.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/center/pregnancy-center.html/c58d014a-89a3-4c90-8b54-c9cadf5d6016
Preventing Premature BirthBabies who are born premature - before 37 weeks of pregnancy - can have health problems that last their whole lives. Learn ways to prevent early labor and have a healthy pregnancy.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/center/preventing-premature-birth.html/10f5d2eb-2f2a-49a9-abcf-488aeb1e40a4
Questions to Ask When Your Baby's in the NICUHaving a newborn in the NICU can be a stressful time. Often, parents forget to ask important questions. This list can help you prepare for the next time you talk to your baby's care team.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nicu-questions.html/8719a966-224a-4bc1-8b50-d06310873ac8
Respiratory Distress Syndrome Sometimes when babies are born premature, they have trouble breathing. This can be caused by respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Learn what RDS is, and how babies can be helped. https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/rds.html/2b37cbeb-0d82-4d2f-84cc-1a609c26f47b
Retinopathy of PrematurityRetinopathy of prematurity, which can happen in premature babies, causes abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina. Some children will need surgery to prevent vision loss or blindness.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/rop.html/e9f2aa26-e142-45b0-8ac8-3761ca8e8859
Taking Your Preemie HomeIf you're about to begin caring for your preemie at home, try to relax. With some preparation and planning, you'll be ready.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preemie-home.html/28668b51-a8c9-44fb-bc03-34064230e09f
The First Day of LifeYour baby's here! Find out what to expect on that special day first day of life.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/first-day.html/5252bd64-d84c-4c1b-ae00-372dcb82647e
When Your Baby’s in the NICULearn what a NICU visit will be like for your little one, what you can do to help, and how to find support for yourself.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nicu-caring.html/62d6b167-886b-4e5a-a201-673cfb11383f
Why Are Babies Born Early?Many things can cause a baby to be born early or with health problems. Some of these things can be controlled, but others can’t. Find out what you can do to have a healthy pregnancy. https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/born-early.html/773ed42f-9ee1-4587-abe5-f3bdaaf9de65
Your Baby’s Care Team in the NICUIf your baby is getting medical care in you NICU, find out who will be caring for your baby and how they can help. https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/nicu-care-team.html/c6c3537f-31db-40f3-a8db-0a7095cff528
Your Newborn's GrowthA newborn's growth and development is measured from the moment of birth. Find out if your baby's size is normal, and what to expect as your baby grows.https://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/grownewborn.html/e0ab9fc0-9148-43ec-b047-e05f68aa23a8
kh:age-allAgesOrAgeAgnostickh:clinicalDesignation-neonatologykh:genre-articlekh:primaryClinicalDesignation-neonatologyHealth Problems of Preemieshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/preventing-premature-birth/health-problems-of-preemies/9f1dabc6-56dd-4d0f-a7ae-c0083f79eeacNewborn Carehttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/pregnancy-center/newborn-care/92cfa6ea-2e13-47d8-a2c6-6678383a3c14Growing Uphttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/growth/growing/727b849c-c7a5-42f7-9123-8bf35fef1429Newborn Health Conditionshttps://kidshealth.org/ws/RadyChildrens/en/parents/pregnancy-center/newborn-health-conditions/85832563-037d-4bcf-b68e-8877d94e4fd5