Infants health

Premature Babies: Causes of Preterm Delivery and its Complications

March 05 , 2019
Dr. Hamida Shahin
Dr. Hamidah Shaheen is a pediatric consultant with over 30 years of experience in Pediatrics and Neonatology.  Qualific...More

We always hear about premature births and neonatal care, but we solemnly don’t know what exactly these terms medically mean and why they occur. In this article, I am going to explain Preterm deliveries, their causes and the proper way to handle them.

So, Let’s start with Preterm deliveries, what are they?
The normal pregnancy duration is 40 weeks, in premature cases it is between (24-37) weeks of gestation, some might consider 22 weeks. There is about 5-18% rate of premature deliveries, roughly reaching up to 15 million deliveries a year.

Some cases might relate to the mother’s side or the baby’s side, many cases usually have no explanation to why babies are born before they are due.

1. Maternal Causes

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple pregnancies (twins, triples ...)
  • Maternal smoking
  • Infections, mainly urinary tract and vaginal infections
  • Obesity or underweight
  • Very young / old mothers
  • Uterine anomalies for example short cervix

2. Infant Causes

  • Congenital anomalies
  • Infection in Utero
  • Multiple babies

What are the problems that premature babies might have?

There is a reverse ratio between age at birth and the likelihood of complications, where neonatal mortality may reach up to 25%, and for those preterm neonates who survive, they will be largely prone to have complications and risks after birth, which I will be talking about in more details in my next articles, those complications may include:

  • Neurological and development problems
  • Eye complications ROP
  • Hearing problems
  • Lung problems
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • GIT problems
  • Hematological problems
  • Infections
  • Neonatal care

So, how should we handle premature births?

Every preterm delivery should be in a hospital with proper facilities for neonatal care, and if not, the neonate should be transferred in a favorable condition to a hospital where Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs)are available.

The delivery must be attended by a Neontologist as the premie should be wrapped immediately with a plastic wrap and put on preheated mattress and radiant heat over the baby.

All premature babies must be attended in the intensive care for evaluation and management until released after doctor’s approval and guidance.