Your Health: Premature Birth
Published December 11th, 2013
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Welcoming a new baby into your life is wonderful, but welcoming one too soon can be scary.
More babies die from preterm birth related problems than any other single cause, so new research is working to make every delivery a success story.
About one in ten babies are born prematurely, and doctors say that number is even higher in the state of Florida.
Little Fiona was born at 32 weeks, about 7 to 8 weeks ahead of schedule.
While her mother Jessica Morey was not expecting her to come quite so soon, she says at least the staff at North Florida Regional Medical Center were ready for her.
"They gave me some drugs that could help prepare the babies lungs in case they come early," Morey says.
"You give mom steroid shots, and that enhances the babies lung production," Dr. Salil Gupta says. Gupta is the medical director of NFRMC's NICU.
Dr. Gupta says some methods like steroid shots have been in use for decades, more recently the production of Surfactant, a chemical manufactured in the lungs can help babies even younger than Fiona.
Preterm babies are much more at risk for health problems not only when they're first born, but also as they continue to develop.
Dr. Gupta says bringing a baby to term is crucial, with a 35% increase in brain volume happening in the last 5 weeks of gestation.
Recently, more research is now focusing on the effects of environmental factors on preterm development.
"Providing the care so there is not too much noise, not too much light, we have moms hold the babies," Gupta says, "we learned that babies who have skin to skin contact with their moms do much better."
All techniques that paid off in Morey's case.
The day after Thanksgiving, a slightly bigger Fiona was dressed and ready to head home.
Doctors say the care she received up front, should pay off with a healthier life ahead of her.
"Can't wait we got the Christmas tree up this morning so she'll come home to a pretty sight," Morey says, "we're just ready to enjoy her."
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