Premature Births – Causes and Risks
- December 17, 2018 Posted by: Sai Siva Childrens Hospital 111 Views RSS
Pregnancy is all about a whole new life. And the countdown is probably the most exciting part of it. However, what happens when the countdown speeds up, and there’s a signal that your baby is going to arrive a little before the gestational term?
Hold on. This is not to frighten you, but to alert you of any condition that could cause a preterm delivery. Also, we are just a call away to help you nurture your little one and help it grow healthy, in case you have an early delivery.
Until then, let’s understand what triggers preterm birth & what complications it may bring.
Understanding Preterm Births…
A full-term pregnancy lasts for 40 weeks, and the baby’s organs are fully matured by this stage. A preterm birth is when the baby is born anytime between 20 weeks to 37 weeks. In a premature birth, the most important factor is that the infant’s organs still need to grow fully matured. Hence, the baby is kept in an incubator immediately after birth for several days, mostly up to the full term is complete. The baby’s internal development is constantly monitored until they are ready to go home.
Unlike in a normal labor which has regular uterine contractions, in a preterm labor, the uterine contractions are usually mild and irregular. Gradually, the contractions proceed to become stronger and more regular. The more the contractions become closer together and regular, the more the chances of a preterm labor and birth are. It is important to know that if you have a premature uterine contraction, preterm birth cannot be stopped.
However, the chances of risks that preterm labor causes can be avoided with proper care and attention to the nutrition and overall health of the mother during the gestational period. But before we move on to talk about how to avoid a premature birth, it is vital to understand what causes it.
Here’s a quick glance at the causes of a premature birth.
What Increases The Chance Of Pre-Term Birth
1. Mother’s Health: Mother’s health plays a significant role in terms of the kind of nutrition she consumes. In some cases, there are deficiencies in the mother that are undetected. This is also a leading cause for premature births.
2. Infections In The Mother: In case the mother has any severe infection during pregnancy, it can rupture the uterine membranes which are responsible for the contractions. Hence, there are chances that she might have a preterm labor.
3. If the mother is obese or underweight: There is a potential risk if the mother’s weight is either more or less, as it can cause complications in the pregnancy.
5. Mother’s age: The mother’s age is important for a pregnancy. If the mother is under age it is difficult for her to hold the amniotic sack with a baby, which could cause a premature birth. Likewise, if the mother is older than 35 years of age are less sensitive to oxytocin (a hormone). This results in having a weaker lining of the uterus, which can cause impaired uterine contractions. In some cases, if the age gap between the couple is more, it can lead to preterm births.
6. A developmental problem of the foetus: This could also be due to a genetic problem which can result in the survival of the baby to be at risk leading to premature contractions and further into a premature birth. In many cases the baby survives, but with a congenital problem.
7. Lifestyle choices: What the mother eats, the intervals and her activity levels play a vital role during pregnancy. What the mother does during her pregnancy has a great deal of effect on how healthy the development of the child is in the womb. It is important that the mother must keep away smoking, alcohol, and any unhealthy addiction. The slightest of callousness can also cause congenital defects in the child, leading to a premature birth and other complications for both.
8. Multiple pregnancies: Sometimes if there is more than one foetus, it could occur that one baby gets more nutrition and the second one does not get enough. In such cases, it could also cause twin to twin blood transfusion where one baby is born weak and the other healthy. This can cause a preterm labor.
Now that the causes of a preterm birth are clear, it is further important that all to be parents know why a premature birth is a risk.
What Happens When Your Baby Is Born Prematurely?
Preterm delivery is an unexpected event and cannot be stopped if the labor starts. Knowing why it is a risk can help more, for you shall be more cautious in taking necessary precautions. So, here we have a list of the risks that a preterm delivery involves.
- Weight and organ growth: A fully grown baby is measured by the right weight, and most importantly the lung maturity. This is usually noted at or after 36 weeks. This is a condition often noticed in preterm births and causes congenital respiratory problems in many babies.
- Breathing Problems: Irregular breathing patterns are common conditions that cause the absence of breathing and a dropped heart rate in infants – ‘apnea and bradycardia’.
- Health post birth: The second risk is the child’s health, which gets severely affected. The immunity of a premie is much fragile than those born at full term. Here we also have a quick list of the possible conditions commonly seen in preemies.
- Delicate Gastrointestinal Tract: Preterm babies have fragile organs and the most delicate after the lungs are the gastrointestinal tract causing difficulty in absorbing necessary nutrients.
- Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP): This is a condition of partial blindness that usually occurs in case of a premature birth at 24-26 weeks. The treatment and management depend on the severity.
- Brain Development: In case the baby is born before 33 weeks of gestation, there are chances of delayed milestones, lowered IQ, cerebral palsy and other brain development delays.
- Pneumonia: Lung immaturity causes the babies to become highly prone to infections, leading to high chances of contracting pneumonia.
Prevention is always the aim. However, not always do many individuals realise that they could be at a risk. This happens because of missing out on something that they should be doing, or perhaps a health condition they are unaware of. So, it’s essential to have a close check on the mother’s health. Eating well and exercising are very important.
However, there is a lot more to be considered during pregnancy. So, check for all the do’s and don’ts during pregnancy, and consult our experts at Saisiva Children’s Hospital to gather more information on how to prevent the slightest possibility of a premature birth.
We, at Saisiva children’s hospital, also provide post preterm delivery counselling to be careful in any case. Click here to book an appointment and get all your doubts cleared. We are here to help you have a wonderful pregnancy and a safe birthing experience.
About the Hospital:
Sai Siva Children's Hospital, Chanda Nagar, is a full-fledged medical facility specially designed for pediatric patients as well as young adults. The hospital was started in the year 2008, with the aim of reaching out to schools and villages to educate the middle and high school students about health & hygiene. Sai Siva Children’s Hospital is one of the most sought-after children’s hospitals in Hyderabad with a team of experienced doctors and skilled staff who aim to help your child have healthy growth and development. We believe that children today are the future of our world, and must have good health to make the world a better place to live in.