"Preemie" is the common term used
when referring to a premature baby. The dictionary definition of a preemie
is “a prematurely born infant”. A preemie is born before 37 weeks
gestation while a full term baby is born at 37 weeks or after. Preemies
require a very different start in life, and this can vary dramatically
depending on the level of prematurity. Micro preemie and preemie are the
two terms used to help define the degree of prematurity.
To an NICU medical professional, a
micropreemie is defined as a baby that is under 1 ¾ pounds (between
700-800 grams) and is generally born before 26 weeks gestation, but most
people prefer to loosen this term up to include any baby under 3 pounds
(1500 grams) or under 29 weeks gestation. Micro preemies require a lot of
medical attention in order to survive, and many more micro preemies are
surviving than ever before in history. The statistics for the survival of
a micro preemie can range from 10-80%.
A micro preemie born before 23 weeks
gestation has no chance of survival to 10%. Every day inside the mother
increases the chances of survival for a micro preemie, and every week is a
major significance continuing to push that percentage higher. This also
lowers the numbers of short and long term health risks.
Some of the many difficulties that a micro
preemie experiences are immature lungs, an underdeveloped digestive
system, cerebral hemorrhaging, high risk of infection, incomplete feeding
reflexes, severe anemia, neurological delays, physical handicaps, and long
term health issues. Because of so many problems associated with being a
micro preemie, medical intervention to keep micro preemies alive include
biliblankets, blood pressure monitors, cardiac monitors, endotracheal
tubes, isolettes, intravenous pumps & tubes, nasal CPAPs, nasal
gastric tubes, nasal prongs, oxyhoods, oxygen saturation monitors,
phototherapy lights, pulse oximeters, respiratory monitors, synthetic
surfactant, temperature probes, UACs, ultrasounds, UVCs, and ventilators.
So much more information is being made available to parents of micro
preemies than ever before, allowing parents the opportunity to educate
themselves on their micro preemie’s needs.
The technical term for preemie is defined
as a baby that is under 5 ½ pounds (2500 grams), though the general
public chooses to call any baby under 7 pounds (3000 grams) a preemie.
This is partially due to the fact that it is difficult to find clothing
that fits these babies unless shopping at preemie stores for preemie
sizes, so some parents refer to their little baby as a preemie. Another
reason is that many people are uninformed about the definition of
Statistics for preemie survival is greater
than 90%. The medical requirements for preemies tends to be a lot less
demanding than those of their micro preemie counterparts. However, it can
still be a precarious time and many preemies may still be on much of the
medical equipment that micro preemies need. A preemie is weaned off of
this equipment as soon as she strong enough or is capable of handling many
bodily functions herself, yet, many times a preemie seems to go back and
forth for a little while.
As a preemie begins to steadily get
stronger and medical needs lessen, it is soon time to go home. Many a
preemie has been sent home with medical equipment that their parents have
been trained to use in case of an emergency. This is a scary time and an
exciting time for parents because they are now in control, not quite sure
if they can handle emergencies but desperately wanting to get down to the
“normal” part of life, raising their preemie. These resilient,
warrior-parents do quite well continuing to fight for their baby and are
very in-tune to even the smallest details.
Many preemies continue to have health
issues that they struggle with for the rest of their lives. However, as
technology advances, some of these problems can be controlled with
surgery, medication, and other interventions. This is a preemie!
Sjona Lindquist is a mom of 6 (1 angel) and
she owns and operates BabyLinq.com Preemie Store. BabyLinq.com Preemie
Store is a resource site and specialty shop for parents of premature
babies. She offers preemie support, bereavement support, and preemie
clothes. Some of the products include micro
preemie clothes, preemie
bereavement gowns, and Preemie dresses. If a new preemie has entered
your life or someone you love, drop by and visit us! BabyLinq.com
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