Our next Twitter chat will be about premature babies. Here’s an overview to get you started. Our experts are from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and March of Dimes.
By KIMBERLY LEONARD
May 20, 2013 RSS Feed Print
Tamara Buechler, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, understands better than most expectant mothers the risks of delivering twins two months before they are due. But, when she was expecting, Buechler knew that she might not have a choice. Halfway into what she had hoped would be an uneventful pregnancy three years ago, her doctors diagnosed a cluster of severe complications — including a rare liver disease that occurs only in pregnancy and a cervix too weak to contain her twins. They warned the twins might not survive.
Buechler vowed not to lose them. But with every setback, she found herself saying goodbye. It’s a dread shared by many expectant mothers whose pregnancies are high risk. Nearly half a million, or one out of nine, babies in the United States are born prematurely every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A baby is considered premature if delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Because their organs have not had enough time to develop, premature babies face a greater risk of severe complications, such as brain hemorrhages; vision and hearing loss; intellectual disabilities and infections, even death. A baby born between 34 weeks and 36 weeks has a three-fold to six-fold chance of dying within the first year, compared to babies who are born at full term.