When a person is pregnant, the most important thing to that person is giving birth to a baby that is healthy. Which is why the idea of premature birth, where a baby is delivered before the 37th week of pregnancy, can be scary. Newborns that are born prematurely may be at an increased risk of certain health complications and birth injuries
What is a Premature Birth?
According to The Mayo Clinic, a premature birth is a birth that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. The relatively seriousness of a premature birth typically depends on how early the baby is born. In most cases, the earlier that a baby is born, the greater the risk of injuries and health complications for the baby. There are four different classifications for preterm babies:
- Born at or before 25 weeks of pregnancy – Extremely preterm
- Born before 32 weeks of pregnancy – Very preterm
- Born between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy – Moderately preterm
- Born between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy – Late preterm
What Causes Premature Birth?
There are a number of risk factors that increase the risk for a premature birth. These risk factors include smoking during pregnancy, having twins, being of an unhealthy weight during or before the pregnancy, experiencing a physical trauma, a history of miscarriages, stressful life events, and certain health complications of the mother.
Birth Injuries and Complications for Premature Newborns
When a baby is born before they are fully developed, they may be at a greater risk of injury and health complications. Some of the most common complications of premature birth include breathing problems, as the newborn’s lungs and heart may not be fully developed; heart problems, including low blood pressure and a heart defect that can lead to heart failure in the most serious of cases; brain problems, including brain hemorrhaging; blood problems, including anemia and jaundice; immune system problems, which can lead to a higher risk of infection; gastrointestinal problems; and more. There can also be a number of long-term problems associated with premature birth, such as cerebral palsy, cognitive disabilities, dental problems, vision problems, chronic health issues, and even behavioral and psychological complications.
Steps for a Healthy and Safe Pregnancy and Delivery
Having a baby that is at risk of complications because of premature birth is something that no parent wants to face. In order to reduce the risk of complication, it is important to have an honest conversation with your doctor about your health history and any lifestyle behaviors you maintain that could increase your risk. If you are at a high risk of preterm birth, there are certain interventions that can be taken to prevent premature birth.
As you work with your doctor, be sure to provide honest information and ask a lot of questions. Doctors sometimes make mistakes, and being involved and active in the process can help to keep you and your baby safe. If you suspect your doctor made a mistake, discuss your rights in filing a claim with an experienced birth injury attorney.