Babies who are born before the expected time are called premature babies. They normally weigh less than 2.5 kgs.
at birth. But in our country, quite a few babies who are born at the expected time also weigh less than 2.5 kgs.
All low birth weight babies, especially those below 1.8 kgs.
and those born 2 months before full term need special care
in a hospital.
MANAGEMENT: A warm
environment, protection from infection and adequate nutrition are the most important
steps in the management of a .
Because of less fat, a can get cold. For warmth, the baby is either kept in an
incubator or in a
heated room. An incubator can be a source of infection in many settings.
Therefore, some doctors prefer to keep the
room warm with the help of a heater. A temperature of 28ºC
to 30°C is maintained in the room. The aim is to keep the baby’s armpit
temperature at between 36.5°C to 37°C (98°F to
99°F).The baby’s head and feet must be well covered. Another good way to keep the baby warm is to let him sleep
with the mother. She can also carry the baby next to her body, inside her clothes, between
her breasts, in what is called the ‘kangaroo position’. The baby
should be sponged, not bathed till he weighs 2.5 kgs. A baby with proper temperature has pink and
warm soles and palms. Blue or cold palms and soles may indicate that the baby
either has some infection or is not being kept adequately warm.
A is more prone to infections. For prevention of infections, all those who
handle the baby
must wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Visitors should be avoided. But the mother must be allowed to
handle the baby. If the baby is too premature, you must at
least touch the baby often, as per your doctor’s advice. The
skin-to-skin contact with the baby is helpful for you as well as for
For proper nutrition, your breast milk is best for your (see the chapter on
FEEDING THE NEWBORN AND INFANTS).
Jaundice and eye problems (retinopathy in eye) are more common in a . Your
doctor will keep a close watch on the baby in case any intervention is necessary.
detect retinopathy of prematurity, initial screening should be done at 7 weeks of
chronological age or 34 weeks of postconceptional age— whichever comes first
—but not before 5 weeks of chronological age.
Premature babies receiving human milk may need supplementation with iron, calcium and
vitamins A, C and D.
11 February, 2013