‘Pre-term babies need specialised care’

Kathmandu, November 17

Premature birth, one that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy, is one of major reasons why children are admitted to Kanti Children’s Hospital, Maharajgunj.

As the world celebrated World Prematurity Day with the aim of raising awareness of pre-term births today, doctors shed light on complications related with prematurity. According to the doctors, pre-term babies must be aided by modern technology and superior care in hospitals.

“Pre-term babies need specialised treatment until they are stable as they have lower immunity to fight infections. Organs of such babies are not fully matured. When organs such as lungs and intestines have not developed properly, the babies are at risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, hospitals must be well equipped to take care of such babies,” informed Dr Rita Singh, consultant paediatrician and head of paediatrics and neonatal department at Om Hospital and Research Centre, Chabahil.

Doctors suggest women to have proper nutritious diet and advise against pregnancy in an early age to reduce their chances of having a pre-term baby. “If the mother is anaemic or is suffering from malnutrition, or has gone through physical abuse and violence, she is very likely to have her babies born pre-term,” informs Dr Ganesh Kumar Rai, Director, Kanti Children’s Hospital.

Thyroid disorders, pneumonia, congenital malfunction and hypertension could also be attributed to pre-term births, as per Dr Singh. The doctors advise that any pre-term babies should be immediately referred to neonatal intensive care unit in hospitals. Babies born before 28 weeks are extremely pre-term, while those born after 28 weeks and before 32 weeks are considered as very pre-term. Likewise, babies born after 32 weeks and before 37 weeks are moderate to late preterm.

According to World Health Organisation, 15 million babies are born too early every year and almost one million children die each year due to complications resulting from pre-term births, globally. Across 184 countries, the rate of pre-term birth ranges from five per cent to 18 per cent of babies born. Pre-term birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age and were responsible for nearly one million deaths in 2015.