Premature Infants

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Premature, also called preterm, infants weigh much less than full-term infants because they have not had the full amount of time for growth inside the uterus.

Dr. Edward Hill discusses premature infants in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

During pregnancy, the infant grows in the mother's uterus usually for 38 to 40 weeks. When an infant is born prematurely, the infant may require special medical care. The level of extra care needed often depends on how early the birth occurs.

Infants born very early in pregnancy are extremely small and fragile. They may weigh less than two pounds. They require specialized intensive care in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, where doctors and nurses have specialized training to care for premature infants and their problems. Health problems for premature infants may not end when they go home from the hospital. They may need special medical care as they grow older.

Early problems for premature infants may include:

Inability to breathe on their own

Body temperature regulation

Feeding and growth problems

Jaundice

Anemia, and

Intracranial hemorrhage

Regular prenatal medical care, avoiding any exposure to tobacco smoke, avoiding alcohol and illegal substances and controlling chronic medical problems are important during every pregnancy.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.