Preterm or Premature Birth

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Overview

When a baby is born with low birth weight (less than 2.5kg), the baby is said to be born weak. Low birth weight can lead to serious complications in the infant if it is not managed properly.

Causes

There are a number of causes that can lead to the birth of a weak infant. The most important ones are listed below:

  • Pre-term birth (birth before the designated 37 weeks required for a fetus to grow to full size)
  • Intrauterine growth restriction (restriction of the growth of the fetus in the uterus due to abnormalities such as a small uterus)
  • Maternal tobacco smoking
  • Elevated maternal blood lead levels
  • Maternal periodontitis (infection of gums) during pregnancy

Symptoms

The main sign of infants that were born weak is that they’re small in size, as compared to normal weight children. However, there are some signs and symptoms associated with this low birth weight that can be described as the following:

Diagnosis

The diagnosis can be made by measuring the weight of the infant at the time of birth. The following scale is used to classify the birth weight:

  • 5kg – 4kg – Normal birth weight
  • 5kg – 2.5kg – Low birth weight
  • 1kg – 1.5kg – Very low birth weight
  • Less than 1kg – Extremely low birth weight

Treatment

The only treatment for low birth weight babies is immediate hospital admission, where the babies are kept in an incubator and constantly monitored.

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