Health Issues of Premature Babies

Premature babies are those who are born before the completion of the 37th week of pregnancy. There are a number of possible causes for premature birth. Premature babies might suffer from many health issues and require special care and treatment.

What Are Possible Health Issues for Premature Babies?

Short-term Complications



Breathing Problems

Premature babies might not have a fully developed respiratory system, which can cause them problems with breathing. They are at risk of developing respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and might show signs of apnea as well. 

Heart Problems

Premature babies usually suffer from hypotension and have to be supplied with intravenous fluids and transfusions to keep their blood pressure normal. They might have patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) as well which can result in heart failure if left untreated. 

Brain Problems

Preemies run the risk of intraventricular hemorrhaging which causes bleeding in the brain. These bleeds can result in accumulation of fluids in the brain which can only be treated through surgery.    

Temperature Control Problems

Premature babies do not have enough fat reserves and are thus unable to stay warm. They have to be kept in an incubator for the first few days until they gain the ability to regular their body’s temperature themselves.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Preemies usually have an underdeveloped gastrointestinal system and are likely to develop a serious condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) unless they receive breast milk.  

Blood Problems

Premature babies usually are anemic and cannot produce the required amount of red blood cells. They run the risk of having infant jaundice as well, caused due to having an excess of bilirubin in the blood. 

Long-term Complications



Cerebral Palsy

Due to brain damage caused by an infection or lack of oxygen supply, a baby might develop a movement disorder known as cerebral palsy.

Impaired Cognitive Skills

Preemies usually have learning disabilities and might not accomplish the development milestones as quickly as full term babies.

Vision Problems

Premature babies run the risk of having retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which can result in blindness if left untreated.

Hearing Problems

Preemies have a high risk of developing hearing issues and might suffer from total or partial hearing loss.

Chronic Health Issues

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), feeding issues, asthma and infections are some of the chronic health issues that premature babies might suffer from.

Behavioral and Psychological Problems

Preemies usually have some kind of behavioral and psychological problem which stops them from interacting with other children and cause depression and anxiety.

Because of various health issues of premature babies, it's very important to know how to take care of premature babies and other basics: