Physicians at the University of Buffalo have reported that while many babies born early may look as healthy as full-term babies, sadly some of them are not, according to Medical News Today on Friday.
Term pregnancy is defined as one in which 37 to 41 weeks have elapsed since the first day of the mother's menstrual period. Traditionally, babies born within this time frame are thought to face the same risks.
However, this study highlights that the earlier the babies are born within this 5 week period, the higher the chances are that they will need some medical assistance.
Dr. Satyan Lakshminrusimha, associate professor of pediatrics at the University's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, says:
We were seeing a significant number of infants born at 37 weeks who looked big and pretty healthy, but who, within a few hours of birth were developing low blood sugar, difficulty in breathing or needed antibiotics, necessitating admission to the neonatal intensive care unit
Dr. Shaon Sengupta, corresponding author of the study, hopes the study will ring alarm bells with medical staff attending these early deliveries. She says:
Our results show the need for an increased awareness among health care providers that even though we consider babies born at 37 or 38 weeks almost term, they are still, to a large extent, physiologically immature.
This risk increased even further if birth was by elective cesarean section - rising from 9.7% risk of admission with vaginal deliveries to 19% following a cesarean.
Dr. Lakshminrusimha notes that the need for respiratory support is increased for babies delivered by cesarean section who may retain their fetal lung fluid, since they do not experience the hormonal changes of labor, which clear the fluid from the lungs.
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