Home‎ > ‎

Premature Birth

Premature infants can experience major health complications as the result of immaturity of their body systems. Here is a sample list of potential medical complications that may develop after the delivery of a preterm infant. Some problems may develop right away, while others take days to occur, and some may be mild while others may lead to life-long complications and even death.
  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
  • Heat loss (trouble controlling body temperature.
  • Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain)
  • Apnea (a long pause in the breathing)
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) – where part of the bowel dies and must be removed surgically
  • Anemia (a reduced amount of red blood cells)
  • Various infections

More infants than ever before are surviving due to advances in medicine and respiratory care, however, whether or not an infant will survive it still tied to his or her gestational age. Keeping in mind the life-long consequences of prematurity, below is a list of commonly agreed-upon rates of survival (single infant) which obviously is linked directly to gestational age:

  • 21-22 weeks or less 0 survival rate
  • 23 weeks 10-35% survival
  • 24 weeks 40-70% survival
  • 25 weeks 50-80% survival
  • 26 weeks 80-90% survival
  • 27 weeks >90% survival

Unfortunately physicians cannot predict all complications because some do not become evident until the child is school aged. Minor learning problems, attention deficit disorder, poor coordination, poor immune response (becomes ill easily) are all problems that may not surface until the child is 6 years of age. Sex is definitely a factor. Boys are at greater risk for death or serious life long consequences of prematurity than the risk for girls.