Prematurity is defined as the birth of a baby before 37 weeks gestation, and it can have both short term and long term impacts on an infant’s physical health, mental well-being, and socioeconomic status. The short-term impacts of prematurity include breathing difficulties due to an immature respiratory system (Roth & Clancy, 2011), increased risk for infection due to underdeveloped organs like the brain and heart (Gogola et al., 2018), jaundice caused by immature liver function (Silverman & Spitzer 1998). These issues can be managed with neonatal intensive care units that provide specialized care based on the specific needs of each infant. However, even with this specialized ongoing care, many preterm infants may experience long-term effects related to their early arrival in the world.
Longer term impacts associated with premature birth may include physical problems such as vision or hearing impairments, cerebral palsy or other neurological disorders that affect motor control or cognition (Marino et al., 2015; Silverman & Spitzer 1998). Additionally, behavioral issues including difficulty sleeping or eating as well as developmental delays in language skills may also arise from being born prematurely. In addition to these physical and cognitive implications of prematurity there are also socioemotional consequences associated with early arrival. Fathers who had children born prematurely often report more distress than fathers whose children were born full term (Davis et al., 2012). This distress was experienced during both infancy and childhood suggesting prenatal stressors may lead to longer lasting feelings of anxiety for parents of preterm infants.
Consider short-term and long-term impacts, socioeconomic implications, the need for ongoing care, and comorbidities associated with prematurity.
In terms of socioeconomic implications there are multiple factors at play when considering how a preterm infant’s health will affect their future prospects. For example family income has been linked to outcomes such as survival rate among premature babies (Kramer et al., 2000). It is likely that families living in poverty have less access to medical interventions necessary for managing conditions like jaundice which could result in worse outcomes compared those who come from higher incomes households. Working parents might also find it difficult to take off time needed for extensive hospital stays or postnatal follow up appointments if available resources are limited within their households which can further complicate recovery following a premature birth event . Additionally parental involvement has been found beneficial during follow up visits following discharge from NICU helping facilitate better adjustment among medically fragile babies discharged home earlier than those considered stable enough after full pregnancy length(Chang et al., 2017).
When evaluating risks posed by prematurity comorbidities should always be taken into account since some illnesses may predispose a child towards developing complications related to premature births without proper management such as diabetes mellitus gestational hypertension , chronic lung disease etc.(McIntire & Leveno 2000) Similarly recurrent infections secondary bacterial sepsis require frequent attention thus increasing burden associated with cost quality healthcare respectively while contributing towards unfavorable prognosis overall . Regular checkups then become paramount importance not only address underlying conditions but limit chances developing infectious diseases which can reduce life expectancy . To conclude prematurity presents unique challenges caregivers must face protect wellbeing baby ultimately enable them reach potential despite onset illness either cause directly indirectly early delivery .