GettyImages_178631525It is difficult to predict which babies will be born prematurely.

No specific cause has been identified, so it is difficult to prevent. There are a few maternal risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, multiple pregnancies or a previous premature birth, but mostly, we just don’t know.

Usually, babies born under 36 weeks will be admitted to a Neonatal Unit (Special Care Nursery). Those under 30 weeks or those who need help breathing will need to be cared for in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

After 23 weeks the survival and prognosis of premature babies increases rapidly.

Some complications for a premature baby might include:
• Feeding difficulties
• Temperature control difficulties
• Breathing difficulties
• Bradycardia (slowing down of the
heart rate)
• Jaundice

The risk of premature babies having disabilities depends on their degree of prematurity and severity of medical complications after their birth, but many premature babies go on to live a completely happy and health life.

Around one third of babies born at 24 weeks will develop an intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, blindness or deafness. Minor disabilities, such as reading or learning problems are sometimes detected at school age.

Babies born close to full term usually have no long term health problems as a result of their early birth.

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