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What is Prematurity?

May 21st, 2024 | by Pauline Chuang

Pauline Chuang

May 21st, 2024

What is Prematurity?

Prematurity or preterm birth is defined as babies born at or before 37 weeks. Research shows that 1 in 10 babies worldwide are born prematurely. The sub-categories of preterm birth are as follows:

  • 28 weeks or less = extremely preterm
  • 28 to 32 weeks = very preterm
  • 32 to 34 weeks = moderately preterm
  • 34 to 36 weeks = late preterm

Babies who are born between 32 to 37 weeks usually do not have any serious long-term problems. Babies who are extremely preterm are at higher risk of developmental problems and health complications; therefore, are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) during the first few weeks of life.

What Causes Prematurity?

The exact cause of premature is not known. However, the following put babies at higher risk of being born early:

  • Pregnancy with twins, triples, or other multiples
  • More than one miscarriage or abortion
  • A previous premature birth
  • Assisted reproduction (i.e., in vitro fertilization)
  • Problems with the mother’s uterus, cervix or placenta
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy

What Are Some Characteristics of Premature Babies?

  • Smaller size with a head that is large compared to the body
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeding problems
  • Heart problems
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
  • Global developmental delays

What Are Some Treatment Options for Premature Babies?

Early intervention should begin as soon as possible as it can result in significant improvements in gross motor, fine motor, communication, and oral-motor skills. Physiotherapy may focus on improving mobility, muscular strength, coordination, and endurance. Occupational therapy may target improving upper limb strength, upper extremity function, and posture to support activities of daily living, such as dressing. Speech and language pathology may support with increasing speech intelligibility (i.e., ability to be understood) and developing oral motor skills related to feeding in the early years such as sucking.

About the Author

As a creative and dedicated physiotherapist, Pauline always strives to create a supportive environment for kids to develop the confidence and competence to reach their goals. She believes in making therapy fun, interactive, and individualised so that it is enjoyable and meaningful to each child. You can spot Pauline at NAPA with the biggest smile, colorful socks, and contagious enthusiasm & positivity.

About NAPA Centre

In this blog, we discuss causes, characteristics, therapy and treatment options for Down syndrome.At NAPA Centre, we take an individualised approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualised programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

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