A too early born baby is termed as premature or preterm baby, but here let us define “too early” for a clear understanding. A normal pregnancy period is about 40 weeks, whereas preterm birth can occur at 37th week or earlier than that.
Preterm births can be classified into four categories:
● Late preterm- born between 34 and 36 weeks.
● Moderately preterm- born between 32 and 34 weeks.
● Very preterm- born before 32 weeks.
● Extremely preterm- born before 25 weeks.
A fetus seeks a full term to stay inside the uterus for a complete development, which means premature birth may lead to some undeveloped traits or organs like liver, brain, kidneys etc. This can pose serious health issues in the preterm child.
What causes premature birth?
There can be numerous reasons for a premature birth. To state a few of them , these can be -Chronic health issues like infections or diabetes, multiple pregnancies, lesser gap between 2 pregnancies (less than 18 months), vaginal health issues etc.
Sometimes premature birth can be natural whereas sometimes it can be induced like in a situation where the doctor feels safer for both mother and child, preterm delivery is chosen. This condition is known as pre-eclampsia (means it's safe not to continue pregnancy)
Let us understand others in elaborated manner-
1. Miscarriage during later phase of pregnancy-
If one has undergone a late miscarriage in a previous pregnancy, the chances of premature birth are likely to increase.
2. Low lying placenta-
During pregnancy when the months pass by , the placenta moves towards the upper side and gets away whereas in some cases it does not. Rather placenta makes a downward movement thereby sometimes leading to covering the cervix. Such condition is known as low lying placenta which can lead to premature birth.
3. Unusual shape of the womb-
Most of the women are unaware of the shape of their womb , which is generally found during the investigations only. The abnormal shape of the womb can become a reason for a premature baby, this is known as congenital uterine. Some of such conditions may be bicornuate womb, unicornuate womb, didelphic or double womb, septate or subseptate womb, arcuate womb .Such conditions can be diagnosed with the help of laparoscopy, ultrasound etc.
4. Bleeding after a trimester-
Bleeding after twenty four weeks of pregnancy can be a sign of low lying placenta. This can become a cause of premature baby. Any type of bleeding during pregnancy must be immediately reported to a doctor.
5. Weak Cervix-
The cervix with lesser strength (can open or shorten earlier), is likely to give birth to a premature baby. In such cases sometimes the woman is given hormone treatment or a cervical stitch to avoid premature birth.
Type 1 and 2 diabetes can also become one of the reasons for premature birth, but keeping the sugar levels balanced before or during pregnancy may reduce the risk of preterm pregnancy.
7. Womb Infections-
The intrauterine infection that manages to reach the womb may become a reason for premature birth. Group B Streptococcus and E.coli are few such bacterial microorganisms that are capable of entering the womb and causing infections.
Each pregnancy has a beautiful story, wishing each one to be healthy and happy !