Prematurity Facts / Definitions

⦁ Apnea. This is a pause in breathing for 20 seconds or more. Premature babies sometimes have apnea. 

⦁ Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). A breathing problem most common in babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy. Babies with RDS lack the surfactant protein that keeps small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing. 

(Meliyah had RDS and spent time on various machines to assit with her breathing)

⦁ Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA). This is a heart problem that happens in the connection (called the ductus ateriosus) between two major blood vessels near the heart. If the ductus doesn’t close properly after birth, a baby can have breathing problems or heart failure. (Meliyah had a PDA surgery when she was less than 2lbs)

⦁ Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This is a problem with a baby’s intestines. It can cause feeding problems, a swollen belly and diarrhea. It sometimes happens 2 to 3 weeks after a premature birth.

Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). This is an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye. ROP can lead to vision loss. 

(Meliyah had stage one and two, thankfully she was able to overcome this and does not currently suffer from vision issues)

Jaundice. This is when a baby's eyes and skin look yellow. A baby has jaundice when his liver isn't fully developed or isn't working well. 

(Meliyah had jaundice)

Anemia. This is when a baby doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of the body.

⦁ Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). This is a lung condition that can develop in premature babies as well as babies who have treatment with a breathing machine. Babies with BPD sometimes develop fluid in the lungs, scarring and lung damage.

⦁ Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). This is bleeding in the brain. It usually happens near the ventricles in the center of the brain. A ventricle is a space in the brain that’s filled with fluid.

⦁ Premature babies often have trouble fighting off germs because their immune systems are not fully formed. Infections that may affect a premature baby include pneumonia, a lung infection; sepsis, a blood infection; and meningitis, an infection in the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.