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  1. 1. Chiavelli 1Danielle ChiavelliMs.TilleryAP Literature18 November 2011 Premature Babies A premature baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation. Premature babies are born tooearly and without the ability to survive on their own; normally their organs are under developed.As a result, these infants tend to be underweight and in an extreme need of urgent medical care.Sadly, premature birth is the primary killer of newborns (“Prematurity Campaign”). To makematters worse, the number of pre-term babies is increasing. Now, “premature birth occurs inbetween 8 percent to 10 percent of all pregnancies in the United States” (“Premature Babies”).Premature babies are extremely difficult to care for because of their complications and specialneeds. Pre-term babies are born with a great need for warmth. A premature baby’s number onelife saver is an incubator; an incubator is “a clear plastic crib that keeps babies warm and helpsprotect them from germs and noise” ("Care for the Premature Baby"). Although they cannot beworn right away, certain articles of clothing can also help babies stay warm. Furthermore,clothes can help make the infant and the parents more comfortable with their situation(Morrissette). Premature infants can have trouble breathing, so different types of technology have beencreated in order to help them perform this task. A ventilator is a respirator; it literally breathes forthe premature baby. An oxygen hood can also be used to help newborns breathe. An oxygenhood is “…an actual clear plastic box that is placed over the babys head and is attached to a tube
  2. 2. Chiavelli 2that pumps oxygen to the baby” (“Care for the Premature Baby”). Overall, these differentbreathing aids are very important to premature newborns; however, the babies still have otherneeds. Nutrition and growth is also very important to a premature baby because he or she mustgrow at a much faster rate than a normal infant (“About Preemies”). Pre-term babies must growfaster in order to catch up and return to the level at which they should be maturing. Manypremature babies do catch up and develop in a healthy manner (“Premature baby? Understandyour preemies special needs”). Some premature babies “…may need special care during their first 2 years…” of life("Caring for Your Premature Baby"). As a result of their prematurity, these babies develop otherissues and complications. The primary problems that premature babies suffer from aredeficiencies involving motor skills and speech and behavioral development; therefore, manypremature babies regularly visit occupational and speech therapists. Furthermore, pre-termbabies need a superfluous amount of familial support, which can be difficult on their alreadystressed families (“About Preemies”). The immense cost of a premature baby makes mattersworse for the family. The cost of birthing and caring for a premature baby is insanely high; for just a singlepre-term baby, a hospital may easily collect over $300, 000 (Lantos and Meadow). Because ofthe excessive expenses, the concern of the cost-effectiveness of neonatal intensive care units, orNICUs, has become a prevalent issue. After this issue was investigated, several professionals,including doctors and economists, concluded that the NICU is “among the most cost-effective ofall intensive care interventions” (Lantos). Despite its critics, the NICU is actually very importantto the survival of premature babies.
  3. 3. Chiavelli 3 Fortunately, there are several other organizations that aim to aid pre-term babies. TheMarch of Dimes is a stellar example of one of these organizations; however, this group did notalways help premature babies. In fact, it was originally founded by Franklin Roosevelt in orderto fight polio (“History”). After a vaccine to prevent polio was created, the March of Dimesdecided to focus on birth defects in general. As prematurity began to become a larger problem,they moved forward in attempt to conquer this new issue. The March of Dimes has declared November to be Prematurity Awareness Month.Throughout this month, the March of Dimes “…focuses the nation’s attention on prematurebirth” (“Prematurity Campaign”). On November 1, the Premature Birth Report Card is launched;this data tells the nation where the most premature births take place every year. Then, onNovember 17, a huge campaign takes off; November 17 is World Prematurity Day. On this day,organizations all around the world spread awareness and share information about prematurebirths. The March of Dimes launched their Prematurity Campaign in 2003; this campaign strivesto ensure that every baby is born after at least 39 weeks gestation. Specifically, this programfocuses on “…funding lifesaving research and speaking out for legislation that improves care formoms and babies” (“Prematurity Campaign”). Research that the March of Dimes has performedhas led to many breakthrough discoveries that have allowed doctors to save many babies’ lives. Although doctors and nurses save the lives of premature babies, the babies’ parentsshould also play a proactive role in the early stages of their infants’ lives. A parent’s first job isto understand their child’s condition because “uncertainty can be frightening…” ("Prematurebaby? Understand your preemies special needs"). Simply understanding the problemssurrounding their baby can provide comfort to parents. However, the newborns also need to be
  4. 4. Chiavelli 4comforted; they are in a strange new place, and they feel lost and confused. Parents must striveto spend quality time with their baby, but the parents still need to be comforted; it is a strenuousprocess for everyone involved. Delivering a premature baby can be a heavy burden for the parents; it is an extremelyemotional event. When they are able to, parents need to take time to focus on themselves. Theparents must take time to heal, to take breaks, to accept help, and to seek support ("Prematurebaby? Understand your preemies special needs"). Even though parents must be there for theirchild, they can allow other people to be there for them. In order to be strong for their newborn,parents should not hesitate to seek help elsewhere; it is not a sign of weakness, but, instead, itmarks strength. Feeding schedules for babies that are born before full gestation are different than theschedules of those who are born on time. In the beginning, premature babies should be fed atleast 8 to 10 times a day (“Caring for Your Premature Baby”). If parents allow too large of a timegap in between feedings, babies may become dehydrated. When following certain rules of thumb, parents should base their premature baby’s ageon his or her original due date, not his or her actual birthday. For example, most doctorsrecommend that babies who were born pre-term should be given solid food at 4 to 6 months aftertheir due dates (“Caring for Your Premature Baby”). However, some babies are not ready forsolid food even then. Prematurity has an infinite number of causes. However, “most premature births arecaused by spontaneous preterm labor” (“Your Premature Baby”). The cause of preterm labor isnot completely known or understood. In half of the cases of premature birth, doctors and otherprofessionals cannot determine a cause or reason as to why the babies had to be delivered early.
  5. 5. Chiavelli 5 In 25% of premature births, the mothers are induced due to health concerns (“YourPremature Baby”). Labor is only induced when it is the safest option for the mother and child;doctors do not induce labor for no reason. However, some pregnant women are prone to pre-termlabor, and an early delivery is inevitable. Women who are pregnant with several children are at an increased risk of prematurebirth. Similarly, certain lifestyles can create circumstances for pre-term labor; these risk factorsinclude no pre-natal care, smoking, and domestic abuse. Furthermore, medical conditions such asdiabetes and obesity can lead to the early delivery of an infant. Finally, demographiccharacteristics can actually affect when a child is delivered. For example, the “non-Hispanicblack race” and people of a “low socioeconomic status” are prone to carry babies that will sufferthrough premature births. The mother’s age is also a risk factor; mothers should be between theages of 17 and 35 years old (“Your Premature Baby”). As premature babies grow and develop, they “…face an increased risk of having one ormore complications” (“Care for the Premature Baby”). Common complications amongpremature babies include apnea, anemia, and low blood pressure (“About Preemies”). Apnea iscaused by an immaturity in the part of the brain that controls breathing; it can cause a newborn tostop breathing. Anemia is classified as a lack of red blood cells; an adequate number of red bloodcells are necessary to transport oxygen throughout the body. Finally, low blood pressure can becaused by many different triggers, but it is easily treated by either increasing fluid intake orprescribing medicine. In the end, most premature babies are able to overcome theircomplications. A premature baby, who is born before 37 weeks of gestation, goes through a long anddangerous journey just to survive the first few moments of his or her young life. The medical
  6. 6. Chiavelli 6care that is currently in place, along with some organizations, gives babies that are born early agood chance of survival. Across the globe, 13 million babies are born too early every year(“Prematurity Campaign”). Hopefully, doctors will soon find a cause for premature births as wellas a prevention method.
  7. 7. Chiavelli 7 Works Cited“About Preemies.” Family Doctor. N.p., 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. < PageManager.jsp?dn=familydoctor&lic=44&cat_id=10007&article_set=21879&ps=104> .“Care for the Premature Baby .” American Pregnancy Association. N.p., May 2007. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <>.“Caring for Your Premature Baby.” Family Doctor. N.p., 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <>.“History.” March of Dimes. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. < mission/history.html>.Lantos, John, and William Meadow. “Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.” Academic Search Complete. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. < login?url= login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=60538456&site=ehost-live>.Morrissette, Cheryl. “Preemie Clothes for in the NICU.” N.p., 6 July 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. < PreemieClothesinNICU.htm>.“Premature Babies .” Medline Plus. N.p., 12 Aug. 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <>.“Premature baby? Understand your preemie’s special needs.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., 27 Aug. 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <>.“Prematurity Campaign.” The March of Dimes. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <>.
  8. 8. Chiavelli 8“Your Premature Baby.” March of Dimes. N.p., 2011. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <