Ten percent of the children born in the world do so prematurely , before the 37th week of gestation. In Spain, the number of premature births is one in 13 births , being one of the European countries with the highest rates of premature births.
No parent is prepared for the arrival of their baby prematurely , and there are many doubts that arise at the beginning regarding their health, basic care and development.
For this reason, on World Premature Baby Day , the brand of biodegradable wipes WaterWipes, in collaboration with pediatrician Nerea Sarrión , wanted to offer families a series of tips for the care of premature babies and what other aspects should be taken into account. Prematurity Day: one in 13 babies are born premature.
Specific health care
A premature baby requires special care and adequate attention to its needs. Depending on the degree of prematurity, their birth weight or other individual characteristics, each baby will have particular needs .
Extreme premature babies are those born between week 22 and week 25 . They do it too early in their development, in a very limiting situation to survive outside the mother’s womb.
In this group, the most frequent health problems are chronic respiratory, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, neurological problems or brain injuries due to premature birth itself or circumstances surrounding its birth. Infections , metabolic or digestive problems can also appear .
Late preterm infants are those born between 34 and 36 weeks, and constitute between 70-74% of premature births in Spain. Although their birth occurs close to the end of pregnancy, these babies have a different development from other newborns, so they are not exempt from short and long-term sequelae. 10030 Unique Baby Girl Names with Origins and Meanings.
The most common problems are jaundice , feeding difficulties, low weight gain , dehydration, and apnea . In the long term, there is also an increase in respiratory and gastrointestinal infections , as well as an increased risk of delayed neurodevelopment.
Follow-up and individualized attention
But the problems do not stop when the premature infant is discharged , but rather follows a long process of care, surveillance and specialized attention to detect complications in the short, medium and long term.
The follow-up must be done from the specialized units together with the pediatrician. In most cases, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and early stimulation, metabolic and nutritional controls, and controls and immunizations will be required for the prevention of common respiratory infectious problems.
Thanks to new advances, the survival of premature infants has increased greatly in recent years and the sequelae have decreased significantly.
During the hospital stay, the health personnel will inform about the importance of skin-to-skin with the premature baby , since it has been proven that caressing, hugging and talking to him helps to improve his physical and neuronal development. What is the corrected age of premature infants and why it should be taken.
But once the baby is discharged, it is essential that parents continue practicing the kangaroo method at home for as long as possible, due to the countless benefits it provides, including facilitating breastfeeding .
Whenever possible, breastfeeding is the best food for the premature. Both from the nutritional point of view due to its immunological and antiallergic effect, as well as from the emotional point of view , since it favors the affective bond between mother and baby.
Breast milk has shown multiple benefits in the premature baby, since it constitutes a true natural medicine that helps to improve the structure of the heart and reduce the incidence and severity of some typical diseases of prematurity, such as necrotizing enterocolitis (in 80 %), a disease that affects the intestine and colon and may require surgery.
Breast milk for preterm infants is a health treatment that the mother can provide, preferably directly through the suction of the breast or with expressed milk.
It is not easy , you have to be very patient because sometimes the baby makes a great effort to suck, but there is the possibility of expressing the milk and giving it with a syringe or tube. Good information , emotional support, and practical help are three keys to successful preterm breastfeeding .
Your skin is very delicate and requires special care
The skin of the newborn has anatomical and physiological differences with respect to that of the adult. Among them we can highlight that it is thinner, has less hair, produces less sweat and its PH is neutral.
But in the case of the premature baby, these differences increase even more , since the skin has not yet completed its development . That is why they do not have fat, they may have lanugo (although sometimes the opposite happens and the baby does not have body hair), their skin is extremely fine and delicate, and more susceptible to percutaneous absorption of potentially toxic substances.
For all these reasons, it is very important to always follow the medical recommendations to take care of your skin, and to use specific products free of perfumes and other irritating compounds, which help to maintain the correct PH.
You must also use diapers adapted to their weight and size that do not cause irritation and fit correctly.
Clothes adapted to your peculiarities
While in the hospital, the premature baby may not need more than a tiny diaper and a hat, while lying skin-to-skin on Mom’s or Dad’s bare chest.
But when it comes time to dress them , something so seemingly simple can become a complex task for parents of premature babies.
And it is that the needs of these babies are very specific, since due to their low height and weight and their immaturity, their fragility is greater than that of a full-term newborn and so is their delicate skin, as we have seen.
For this reason, it is recommended that at the beginning, premature babies use specific clothing for their size , made of natural fabrics and respectful of their skin, and with front openings that facilitate the moment of change.
Vaccination is essential
Due to the immaturity of the cutaneous mucous barriers and their immune system, premature babies are especially vulnerable to infections , especially those caused by bacteria such as H. influenzae type B and Pneumococcus. That is why vaccination in this group is even more important and essential .
According to the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics ( CAVAEP ), premature infants should receive the same vaccination schedule as term newborns, and be vaccinated according to their chronological age, regardless of their gestational age and weight at birth.
But in addition to vaccinating the premature baby, the immunization of the people who live with him is very important , hence both adults and children must keep their vaccination schedules up to date , as well as the annual flu vaccine .
It is normal for parents of premature babies to feel insecure at first when it comes to caring for their baby. It may not be easy at the beginning, but it is important to rely on the medical team that treats the baby, consult all the doubts that may arise and always follow their instructions. In addition, they must trust their baby, because premature babies are great fighters, and of course themselves.