Birth Defects and Specialized Care of Premature Infants
Having a healthy pregnancy is important to all women who chose to have a child. Eating healthy and exercising is good for the mother and baby; however, some pregnancies no matter how cautious the mother may be it can end unexpectedly in a premature birth. This can be devastating and cause extreme heartache for the parents or caregivers of the infant. Premature infants can suffer from many different birth defects, and end up spending months in the hospital; therefore, racking up high medical bills. Premature infants require specialized care to treat possible birth defects; however, having an infant with one can cause heartache and stress for the parents and caregivers. What is a premature infant? In Nadine Jacobson’s article, Premature Infants, “A premature infant can be defined as one being born before thirty-seven weeks of gestation” (4.2). Very premature infants will be born between twenty-two weeks and twenty-eight weeks gestation. A full term pregnancy is usually between thirty-seven to forty weeks gestation. This will be measured by the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period. The Prematurity Campaign states, “Every year, more than half a million babies are born prematurely in the United States. The rate of premature birth has risen by thirty percent since 1981” (web). Premature infants’ survival rates depend on when in gestation they were born, additionally the mother’s health and previous medical history, and if she is pregnant with multiples can greatly affect the length of pregnancy. The mother’s age, height, and weight can be a factor as well as if she abuses drugs. In the article, Primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions to reduce the morbidity of preterm birth “The most common causes of preterm birth are high blood pressure, hemorrhage, fetal distress, or intrauterine growth.” (Iams,et.al) However, there are some “risk factors for preterm birth, ethnicity, family history, infections, maternal characteristics, socioeconomic status, multiple pregnancies, smoking, substance abuse, and air pollution” (Johansson and Cnttigius).Doctors resort to many different treatment methods to help prevent premature birth, for example, some doctors recommend bed rest and or drug therapy. Some studies show the use of progesterone can maintain cervical integrity and give anti-inflammatory effects (Iams, et.al). Some doctors do a cervical cerclage, which is stitching of the mother’s cervix; in doing this, it holds the cervix together to keep the baby in the uterus from entering the birth canal. However, these methods may or may not work for some mothers. The survival rates stated by Premature Infants are “20 weeks or less: 0 % survival rate, 22 weeks: 0-10% survival rate, 23 weeks: 10-35 % survival rate,24 weeks: 40-70% survival rate, 25 weeks: 50-80 % survival rate, 26 weeks: 80-90 % survival rate, and 27 weeks: greater than 90% survival rate (Jacobson). When an infant is born premature, they require specialized care; therefore, a large staff of specialists and nurses will be on hand to care for these fragile infants. Once a premature infant is born, and stabilized then the infant is taken to a special care unit called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU for short. Having a baby in the NICU can be overwhelming, for the parents with all the machines, lights, sounds, and the large amount of staff that works there. While the infant is in the NICU the staff that will care for the infant includes a Neonatologist, a doctor that specializes in premature infants and all the special health issues they can have. Nurses, Respiratory therapists are specialist managing the breathing machines that some of the infants require. Occupational and Physical Therapists help with the positing and monitoring of the infant’s eating habits to see if they need help learning how to eat correctly. There might be a nutritionist on staff to monitor the babies, to see if they need...
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