Premature Infancy

Essay by Ken EwaldHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 1997

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Premature babies, otherwise known as preterm babies, or preemies, are babies that

are born earlier than the full-term of thirty-eight to forty-two weeks of pregnancy. These

babies are generally born between the twentieth and thirty-eighth week. Almost 250,000

babies, nearly seven percent of newborns, are premature(Golant 4). Prematurity, even

with all the advances in technology, is still a major cause of fetal and neonatal death.

Actually, around seventy-five percent of perinatal deaths are due to a number of problems

associated with prematurity(Freeman 232). Premature babies are very weak and

defenseless, and need to be hospitalized. One reason for this is that a baby may become

startled into shock by a loud sound or even bright light. This occurs because many babies

have fully-developed senses and underdeveloped organs, which may become a problem,

since the brain may not be developed well enough to be able to distinguish these different

senses, which causes the baby to panic and lose control of its actions.

The main underdeveloped parts of a premature baby are its organs, chiefly the

lungs and the brain. The lungs are developed in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and if

the child is born before the thirty sixth week, he/she may require some special attention.

Usually, the child is monitored closely for the first few weeks of its life, in order to make

sure there is no problems with the breathing or any other function of its body. The

premature baby will probably need supplemental oxygen to help it through the early

stages, but rarely will it need an actual respirator or other life-supporting device on a full-

time twenty four hour basis. In fact, giving the baby too much oxygen may complicate

problems, such as damages to the eyes. This is caused by a over-abundance of oxygen...