Plan your pregnancy to prevent premature births. According to health experts, there could be several reasons for births before time, but this could be avoided if adequate measures are taken.
Pre-conception counselling and regular check-ups, for example, are imperative to avert complications in mother that may lead to premature births.
“Premature births could happen due to many reasons — age-related, high blood pressure, problem in chromosomes, thyroid, diabetes, complications in uterus, hormonal deficiency, anemia, and history of an abortion, miscarriage or premature births etc.,” said Dr Vimal Grover, Gynaecologist, Fortis La Femme GK-II.
“Infection and bleeding during pregnancy sometimes contribute to early birth. Apart from that habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption in would be mothers also increase the risk of premature birth,” said Dr Naveen Gupta, Neonatologist, Max hospital, Patparganj.
Doctors advise to go in for planned pregnancies as far as possible. The couple should ideally consult a doctor three months before planning a pregnancy.
“We recommend Rubella vaccines to the mother three months before pregnancy. It can save the newborn child from congenital deformities like blindness, deafness, retarded mental growth and heart problem. We also give a vitamin called Folic acid to the mother to ensure normal growth of the child. The vitamin is given three months before pregnancy and it continues throughout the period,” Dr Grover added.
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a mild disease that affects an expectant mother and can have very harmful effects on the unborn child. According to the doctor, if a birth takes place after 37 weeks then it is normal, and if the birth is between 32-37 weeks then it is premature but complications are minimal.
Child birth before 32 weeks is very premature and below 32 weeks it can cause a lot of complications in the child say doctors.
If born premature, the baby can suffer from a lot of complications that could be both short-term as well as long-term.
“Premature babies may develop breathing difficulty soon after birth due to immaturity of lungs and deficiency of a chemical called surfactant. For that they may require ventilation and babies who need prolonged ventilation may develop lung disease,” explained Dr Gupta.
“They may also have feeding problems like a premature gut won’t be able to digest milk at the same pace as a mature gut can. There is between 10% and 2% risk of bleeding in brain of these babies since the vessels in which blood flows are poorly supported,” he added.
The long-term complications for the baby include chronic health problems — may develop cognitive impairment (poor IQ level), motor impairment (unable to move) and sensory impairment like vision and hearing losses. When these children become adults they also run the risk of developing problems such as insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
“To prevent complications in the child after birth, antenatal steroids (4 doses of Betamethasone injection) should be given to the mother before delivery. Facilities for parental nutrition should be made, safer and less aggressive ventilation should be given to the baby, if the baby is stable, feeds should be introduced early,” said Dr Gupta. He also advises counselling and promoting mothers to express breast milk and promoting hand hygiene in neonatal intensive care units to prevent infection.