Premature Birth: What Are The Symptoms and Causes

Babies That Are Born Too Early- Premature Birth

Introduction

Pregnancy can be great news to parents. But what’s more important is the well-being of the baby and its overall health. And one concern that most parents deal with is the possibility of premature birth.

In this article, we shall demonstrate to you the symptoms that come together with preterm, several causes of premature birth and what problem it can cause within the near future. This will help you out to know the earlier signs and take the precautions which are much needed.

Before that, let us give you a brief of what premature birth is and along with the categories it falls in.

What is Premature Birth?

An infant is supposed to get fully mature between the 37th and 42nd week of the pregnancy. Premature birth happens when a mother delivers the baby before the 37th completed week of gestation. That means, three weeks before the evaluated due date.

Due to the early delivery, the bodies of the infants are underdeveloped. That is why they need extra care. This is also the reason why they need prolonged stays within the hospital. Not only that, but this also causes many health-related problems that can be temporary and permanent.

Categories of Premature Birth

The babies are often born with several medical conditions. Although, it differs from infant to infant. A simple guide to the preterm stage is given below:

1. Extreme preterm: When the infant is born before 25 weeks of gestation
2. Very preterm: When the infant is born before 32 weeks of gestation
3. Moderate preterm: When the infant is born somewhere between 32 to 34 weeks of gestation
4. Late preterm: When the infant is born somewhere between 34 to 36 finished weeks of gestation

Symptoms of Premature Birth

Below are mentioned some of the most common symptoms of premature birth. If you notice any of these symptoms, immediately head to your healthcare provider.

  • Experiencing extra vaginal discharge than before
  • Change in the thickness of vaginal discharge and light bleeding
  • The extra pressure in your lower abdomen and pelvis region
  • Experiencing continuous pain in the back. No matter how many times you switch your position, it doesn’t go away.
  • Constant cramps with or without diarrhoea in the abdomen and belly area. It may be occurring every 10 minutes and gets more severe each time.
  • Tightening of the abdomen due to persistent and regular contractions in the belly region
  • Preterm Prelabour Rupture Of Membranes (PPROM) in which the water breaks early

Causes of Premature Birth

Premature birth can happen due to several reasons. It can be due to health problems, poor lifestyle or other aspects. The factors leading to premature birth are as follows:

Giving Birth to Multiple Infants at the Same Time

Giving birth to twins, triplets, quadruplets can be exciting, but it also comes with increased chances of preterm infants. Studies show that almost 60% of the twins are preterm & 90% of the triplets are premature.

The Age of the Mother

When it comes to premature birth, the age of the mother matters a lot. If the mother is below 17 or above 35 years of age, additional precautions are needed for the healthy delivery of the infant.

Birth History of Family

It’s important to know if there is any history of premature births within the family. This can affect the pregnancy too. The chances are much higher if the mother is preterm herself.

Cigarettes, Drugs and Alcohol

Avoid drinking and smoking at all costs during the pregnancy period. The toxic substances in these products can be harmful to both the mother and the child. It also holds a higher potential of causing premature birth.

Poor Nutrition and Health

Not getting proper well-balanced nutrients leads to a higher probability of having a premature birth. It depends on the health of the mother and the diet and nourishment she is taking before and during the pregnancy.

Infections and Illness

Infections like urinary tract infection, group B streptococcus, vaginal infections, amniotic membrane infections or infection in the placental tissue can lead to preterm. More than that, an early opening of a weakened cervix can also lead to preterm.

Heart or kidney disease also encourage premature birth. Other chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, blood clotting or diabetes can also lead to preterm. However, these are comparatively more rare reasons for premature birth.

Abnormal Uterus

The structure of the uterus should be taken into consideration. An abnormal uterus can be a fundamental factor for preterm.

Pregnancy History

If a mother has already delivered a premature child in the past, the chances are higher than the conceiving child will also be preterm. Also, if the mother became pregnant before the 6th month after the last gestation, this can develop into a higher chance of a preterm infant.

Health Problems in the Premature Infant

Since the infants are born before the expected due date, the bodies of the premature babies aren’t fully matured, which can cause several health problems shortly. The list of health risks is given below:

Respiratory Problems

  • Shortness of breath and long term lung disease
  • Improper development of lungs
  • Hyaline membrane disease
  • Leaking of air in the lungs
  • Prone to pneumonia
  • Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Blood Problems

  • The body is not able to produce a reasonable RCB blood count, which leads to anaemia
  • May cause jaundice due to incomplete development of liver and gastrointestinal function
  • An unbalanced level of minerals in the bloodstream
  • Lower blood sugar than normal

Cardiovascular Problems

Gastrointestinal Function

  • Not able to swallow or chew the food properly
  • Poor metabolism and digestion
  • May cause Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
  • Low body weight due to less fat in the body

Neurological Problems

  • May cause seizures
  • Improper growth of blood vessels in the child’s eye
  • Bleeding in the brain or brain haemorrhage
  • Brain tissues being extra soft around the ventricles

Conclusion

Premature birth refers to the delivery of the baby before the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. This can be caused by several reasons and can be detected through several symptoms – most of which have been explained above.

In this article, we have elucidated the symptoms and causes of premature birth, along with the health problems it can cause in the infant. This will assist you to know the prior symptoms and take the much-needed precautions.

Bonus Read: Know how to be healthy while pregnant and what foods to be avoided during pregnancy.

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