What is prematurity?
Can it be prevented? What should I do if my baby is premature?

Get you know "prematurity"
The incidence of prematurity is about 5-10%
But prematurity is responsible for 80% of all newborn infant death

Delivery that occurs at 20 to 36 weeks of gestation is considered premature. Babies born with birth weight under 2500g are considered Low Birth Weight (LBW); while babies born with birth weight under 1500g are considered Very Low Birth Weight(VLBW). Generally speaking, babies born earlier will face more medical problems; as a result, the treatment of prematurity focuses on babies born at less than 32 weeks of gestation or VLBW preemies.

Besides the potential threat of death, families of preemies also worry about baby's other medical situation, such as all kinds of peracute and chronic diseases. Statistics show that more than 50% of all VLBW preemies need to breathe with the help of inspirators, while others usually suffer from complications such as hyperbilirubinemia, septicemia, respiratory disease, and retrolental fibroplasias. All the complications often result in ablepsia and cerebral hemorrhage, which may lead to long-term neural trauma and cerebral paralysis. For the children themselves, these diseases might cause disabilities that could effect them for a life time; for the family and the society, the children are indeed heavy burden hard to unload.

In light of the negative impact prematurity might impose on the child and the family, it is worth our effort to make the best of modern medical technology in order to minimize the incidence of prematurity. Dr. Eastman, the renowned obstetrician once pointed out that "Only through a thorough understanding of prematurity can it be prevented." Indeed, one rule applies to all diseases: Prevention is better than cure.

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It takes everyone's effort to prevent prematurity.

  1. Take notice of any available information and knowledge about prematurity.
  2. Gain sufficient understanding about prematurity.
  3. Share your knowledge with your friends and relatives.

Life and Behavior

  • Under-nourishment
  • Smoking, drinking
  • Taking illegal drugs
  • Over-tired from work
  • Unhealthy sanitation practices
  • Emotional instability
  • Anemia, etc.

Before Pregnancy

  • Became pregnant when under 18 or over 40
  • Unwed mother
  • Underweight prior to pregnancy
  • Pregnancies too close together
  • Previous premature birth early contractions or previous miscarriage
  • Pyelonephritis
  • Cervical incompetence(The cervix did not close completely after the previous birth)
  • Problems during previous birth
  • Previous uterine surgery(abortion, etc.)

During Pregnancy

  • Infection、fever
  • Bacteriuria、cold
  • Multiple children expected
  • Placental previa
  • Toxemia、Hypertension
  • Abruption placenta
  • Premature rupture of membrane(early water breakage)
  • Polyhydramnios or Oligohydramnios(Uterine water too little or too much)
  • Uterine deformity(abnormalities of uterus)
  • Bleeding after 12 weeks of pregnancy
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Physical or emotional injury
  • Chromosomal or congenital deformity (birth-defect)in fetus

Signs of Prematurity

  1. Premature birth throes:
    If expectant mothers should experience premature birth throes (labor pains) 5-6 times an hour, i.e., once every 10 minutes, they should seek medical treatment immediately. Otherwise the cervix will thin and expand and a premature delivery might be caused.
  2. Abdominal pain like the one during menstruation.
  3. Continued lower backache or waist sore.
  4. Increased vaginal secretion or secretion with blood and fluid
  5. Feeling heavy weight at abdomen or oppression at vagina.
  6. Continued abnormal cramps with/without diarrhea.
  7. Changed vagina discharge(leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina).
  8. Decreased fetal movement

Important notice for mothers-to-be:

《Before Gestation》

To avoid premature delivery, mothers should have a healthy life style.

Avoid smoking, drinking, or drug abuse; cultivate a healthy dietary habit and maintain good personal hygiene. Avoid overworking and try to stay carefree and lighthearted. Conceive at medically appropriate and safe age; try to avoid induced abortion or infection at reproduction organs.

《 During Gestation》

Mothers-to-be should take good care of themselves: take notice of any symptom of prematurity during pregnancy and acquire sufficient obstetrical knowledge so as to prevent premature delivery.

  • Follow doctors' advice and have an antenatal examination. By doing so, whether the mother is likely to have premature delivery can be determined.
  • For the benefit of normal gestation, the fetus should stay in the womb as long as possible to reach full development. If any sign of premature delivery is detected, the mother should seek medical treatment immediately. Mothers should also cooperate with her obstetrician in relieving the premature syndrome such as premature rupture of the membranes. The earlier the signs are detected, the less chance a premature delivery will occur.

If you are diagnosed as "high-risk mothers of prematurity" (i.e., likely to have premature delivery), what should you do?

EStart from choosing the right hospital:

If premature delivery cannot be avoided, please choose a hospital with newborn infant intensive care unit (ICU). Otherwise, if your newborn baby is born in the hospital without ICU and has to be transferred to another one, it may be too late for the baby and complications like hypothermia and cease of breath may occur.

Always keep an eye on any sign of premature delivery:

Touch your belly 2-3 times a day to feel the womb and count the times of its contraction. Before 30 weeks of gestation, the contraction should be 3 times an hour; after 30 weeks, 4 times an hour. If the number you get exceeds the standard, please stay in bed, get enough rest and sufficient water. If the situation doesn't get any better, seek medical treatment right away.

Other signs of premature delivery include: abnormal hemorrhage, rupture of the membranes and other complications. Please seek medical treatment right away if any of there occurs.

For 50% of all premature deliveries, no clearly responsible cause can be traced. Those mothers assessed as "high-risk" may not have premature delivery in the end and those low-risk mothers still stand a chance of having premature delivery. This may well lead to the conclusion that all pregnant women should be concerned with and try to prevent prematurity.