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Baby at risk? Conditions that may affect preemies

Featuring content from MediResource Inc.

Most premature babies have special health problems. Here are some of the conditions your baby may experience:


  • Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS): difficulty breathing caused by a lack of surfactant, a substance that normally prevents the lungs from collapsing
  • Apnea and bradycardia: apnea is any pause in breathing that lasts more than 20 seconds, and bradycardia is a slow heart rate
  • Transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTNB): fast breathing that occurs in the first few hours or days after birth and then goes away
  • Chronic lung disease or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD): rapid or shallow breathing, wheezing, and crackling sound in the lungs that can last even after the baby goes home
  • Pneumonia: infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs of the lungs that can interfere with the lungs' ability to transfer oxygen to the blood.

Heart and blood pressure

  • Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA): a small hole in the heart that normally closes by itself, but may be more likely to stay open in preemies (it can be closed using medications or a simple operation)
  • Low blood pressure

Other problems

  • Jaundice: yellowing of the skin or eyes because the liver has not developed well enough to remove bilirubin, a substance produced when red blood cells are broken down (excess bilirubin causes the yellow color)
  • Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP): abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye that may lead to vision problems
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis: a serious condition causing tissue in the bowel to die
  • Blood sugar problems: blood sugar levels may be too high or too low (this does not mean that your child will develop diabetes later)
  • It's important to realize that not all preemies will have these health conditions. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your baby's health.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2018. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Caring-for-Your-Preemie