What Is A Preemie?

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“Preemie” is the common term used when referring to a premature baby. The dictionary definition of a preemie is “a prematurely born infant”


By Sjona Lindquist

“Preemie” is the common term used when referring to a premature baby. The dictionary
definition of a preemie is “a prematurely born infant”. A preemie is born before
37 weeks gestation while a full term baby is born at 37 weeks or after. Preemies
require a very different start in life, and this can vary dramatically depending
on the level of prematurity. Micro preemie and preemie are the two terms used
to help define the degree of prematurity.

To an NICU medical professional, a micropreemie or micro preemie is defined as
a baby that is under 1 3/4 pounds (between 700-800 grams) and is generally born
before 26 weeks gestation, but most people prefer to loosen this term up to include
any baby under 3 pounds (1500 grams) or under 29 weeks gestation. Micro preemies
require a lot of medical attention in order to survive, and many more micro preemies
are surviving than ever before in history. The statistics for the survival of
a micro preemie can range from 10-80%.

A micropreemie or micro preemie born before 23 weeks gestation has no chance
of survival to 10%. Every day inside the mother increases the chances of survival
for a micro preemie, and every week is a major significance continuing to push
that percentage higher. This also lowers the numbers of short and long term health
risks.

Some of the many difficulties that a micro preemie experiences are immature lungs,
an underdeveloped digestive system, cerebral hemorrhaging, high risk of infection,
incomplete feeding reflexes, severe anemia, neurological delays, physical handicaps,
and long term health issues. Because of so many problems associated with being
a micro preemie, medical intervention to keep micro preemies alive include biliblankets,
blood pressure monitors, cardiac monitors, endotracheal tubes, isolettes, intravenous
pumps & tubes, nasal CPAPs, nasal gastric tubes, nasal prongs, oxyhoods, oxygen
saturation monitors, phototherapy lights, pulse oximeters, respiratory monitors,
synthetic surfactant, temperature probes, UACs, ultrasounds, UVCs, and ventilators.
So much more information is being made available to parents of micro preemies
than ever before, allowing parents the opportunity to educate themselves on their
micro preemie’s needs.

The technical term for preemie is defined as a baby that is under 5 1/2 pounds
(2500 grams), though the general public chooses to call any baby under 7 pounds
(3000 grams) a preemie. This is partially due to the fact that it is difficult
to find clothing that fits these babies unless shopping at preemie stores for
preemie sizes, so some parents refer to their little baby as a preemie. Another
reason is that many people are uninformed about the definition of prematurity.

Statistics for preemie survival is greater than 90%. The medical requirements
for preemies tends to be a lot less demanding than those of their micro preemie
counterparts. However, it can still be a precarious time

and many preemies may still be on much of the medical equipment that micro preemies
need. A preemie is weaned off of this equipment as soon as she strong enough or
is capable of handling many bodily functions herself, yet, many times a preemie
seems to go back and forth for a little while.

As a preemie begins to steadily get stronger and medical needs lessen, it is
soon time to go home. Many a preemie has been sent home with medical equipment
that their parents have been trained to use in case of an emergency. This is a
scary time and an exciting time for parents because they are now in control, not
quite sure if they can handle emergencies but desperately wanting to get down
to the “normal” part of life, raising their preemie. These resilient, warrior-parents
do quite well continuing to fight for their baby and are very in-tune to even
the smallest details.

Many preemies continue to have health issues that they struggle with for the
rest of their lives. However, as technology advances, some of these problems can
be controlled with surgery, medication, and other interventions. This is a preemie!
 
Sjona Lindquist is a mom of 6 (1 angel) and she owns and operates BabyLinq.com
~ Preemie Store. BabyLinq.com ~ Preemie Store is a resource site and specialty
shop for parents of premature babies. Lindquist’s daughter was stillborn from
a Strep B infection due to PROM (Premature Rupture of Membranes). In honor of
her daughter, Michaela, she offers preemie support, bereavement support, and preemie
clothes. Some of the products include micro preemie clothes, preemie bereavement gowns, and Preemie dresses. If a new preemie has entered your life or someone you love, drop by and visit
us! BabyLinq.com ~ Preemie Store


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