Yeditepe University Hospital Child Health and Diseases Specialist Assoc. Dr. Filiz Bakar says that premature babies born without developing defense systems require very careful care for the first six months.
What Does Premature Birth Mean?
Normal pregnancy is defined within 38-42 weeks. Babies born at or after 37 weeks are premature babies and require special care. Especially those born under 32 weeks premature babies they form the main problematic group. Nowadays, with the increase in assisted reproductive techniques, there is an increase in the number of multiple births and parallel premature babies.
How should the first care of premature babies be?
The baby lives in a stable environment, sterile, less noisy, dark, safe environment in the womb. With the birth event, the baby's temperature comes to a very different, non-sterile, noisy, very bright and unsafe environment. Babies born on time dry, dressed, given to the mother's chest to provide a safe and warm environment. Baby adapt to this new environment as soon as possible. However, premature babies are exposed to some interventions as soon as they are born, and they should be removed from the mother's safe environment. Because some of the premature delivery systems are not well developed, they have difficulty in adapting to the new environment. These babies are looked after in incubators, which are similar to the mother's womb. The incubator is heated at the ideal temperature for the baby and the desired level of moisture is provided to prevent heat loss. A more sterile environment is provided by keeping the baby separated from the external environment and passing air through special filters. In the incubator, the amount of oxygen that the baby needs will be given. An isolated environment is provided for the baby to minimize noise. If necessary, a dark environment is provided by covering the incubator. so baby In this environment that resembles the womb of the mother until recovery, all the care and treatments are provided in such a way as to harm the baby.
During their stay in the intensive care unit, these infants may have respiratory problems, respiratory arrest, problems in heat preservation, infections, nutritional problems, low blood sugar, jaundice, brain hemorrhage, anemia, bowel gangrene, and blindness called premature retinopathy. Treatments for these problems are made. Infants who stay in the intensive care unit for a long time, overcome these problems successfully, can be fed by suction and do not need respiratory support are discharged. Discharging premature babies and sending them home does not mean that all their problems are over. Care must also be taken after leaving home. Special care is required because the baby remains in intensive care as well as resistance factors are lacking. Resistance factors are passed from mother to baby in the last months of pregnancy. However, since these babies are born prematurely, resistance factors remain incomplete and are more vulnerable to infections. Therefore, hand cleaning is of primary importance when touching these babies. These babies should not be put in very crowded environments. In the meantime, while protecting the baby should not overdo it. We also do not recommend keeping the baby closed at home all the time. It is especially important that they are brought to fresh air in mild weather and that they receive sunshine.
What is the period to be considered for premature babies?
Premature infants are usually discharged when they are 34-35 weeks old. In premature infants, respiratory arrest may be called apnea because the respiratory center cannot complete its development until 40-45 weeks. Therefore, apnea beds are recommended for risky babies at home. Infants usually start to develop their own defense factors from an average of 6-7 months. In terms of infections, the first 6-7 months or even the first year require special attention.
How should premature babies be fed?
Early and correct nutritional support of premature babies after discharge is decisive for long-term normal growth and development. The ideal food breast milk. If breast milk is sufficient, we prefer these babies to be fed with breast milk. However, as premature babies have more nutritional requirements, we support breast milk with breast milk boosters when necessary. If breastmilk is not sufficient, we use special formula formulas for premature babies.