Low immunity is a common concern for premature infants. Care must be taken to provide a clean, healthy environment to the infants at home; and too many visitors should be avoided. Premature infants should receive all the immunizations as per the schedule for a full-term infant, with the exception of the hepatitis B vaccine. Premature infants are at higher risk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection, and should receive RSV antibody injections for protection.6,7
Keeping the baby warm and secure
Mothers should use the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) approach to provide ample care and warmth to the baby. The baby must be placed between the mother's breasts, which helps to improve the baby's respiration in tandem with the up and down movement of the mother's chest while breathing. Moreover, the close proximity to mother's breasts helps the baby to feed on demand, while improving the mother's breast milk production as well. Any member of the family can provide KMC as it gives proper warmth to the baby and makes it feel secure. It also helps the family members to spend some more time with the baby.8
Care must be taken to lay the baby down on the back while sleeping. Keep his/her head uncovered, while tucking the blanket under the arms. Maintain a nice, comfortable room temperature for the baby. Such active measures reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in premature infants.
Regular check-ups and follow- ups.
Few premature babies are prone to certain long-term problems like eye problems, hearing problems, respiratory distress syndrome, etc. It is important that the infants should be properly screened for these ailments, and subjected to regular check-ups and follow-ups for adequate treatment and monitoring of their condition.1
Alarming signs and symptoms.
The parents and the caregivers should be on the look-out for alarming signs, such as, breathing difficulties, inability to maintain normal temperature, high fever, convulsions, reduced feeding or frequent vomiting and decreased activity. It is best to visit the doctor immediately if the baby shows any of these signs or symptoms.9
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthy children.org. (Feb 2016). Health Issues of Premature Babies. [As accessed on 22.10.17]. Available from: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/preemie/Pages/Health-Issues-of-Premature-Babies.aspx.
- Zhao J., Gonzalez F. and Mu D. (2011). Apnea of prematurity: from cause to treatment. Eur J Pediatr. 170(9), pp. 1097-1105.
- SDutta S., Singh B., Chessell L., Wilson J., Janes M., McDonald K. et al. (2015). Guidelines for Feeding Very Low Birth Weight Infants. Nutrients. 7, pp. 423-442.
- McCall E.M., Alderdice, F., Halliday H.L., Jenkins J.G. and Vohra, S. (2010) Interventions to prevent hypothermia at birth in preterm and/or low birth weight infants. Cochrane Neonatal Group. [As accessed on 13.10.2017]
- Tiwari S., Bharadva K., Yadav B., Malik S., Gangal P., Banapurmath C.R. et al. (Aug 2016). IYCF Chapter of IAP: Infant and Young Child Feeding Guidelines, 2016. Indian Pediatrics. 53, pp. 703-713.
- Gauer R.L., Burket J. and Horowitz E. (2014). Common Questions About Outpatient Care of Premature Infants. American Family Physician, 90(4), pp. 244-251.
- McGuire W., Clerihew L. and Fowlie P.W. (2004). Infection in the preterm infant. BMJ, 329(7477), pp. 1277-1280.