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Being born preterm is a circumstance, not a disease in itself, although it may lead to persistent complications.
Special Nutrition. Preterm babies need special nutrition for ideal growth, if we consider that to be what would have happened if the pregnancy had reached full term. This is more difficult to achieve the more premature and smaller the newborn is.
For the first few days of their lives, preterm babies born at weeks 31-32 and with a birth weight of less than 1250-1500 g approximately, need intravenous parenteral nutrition, in other words, administered via a central catheter. However, it is very important to initiate enteral feeding (through the digestive tract) in the first hours of life, if the newborn is stable. The best food for all newborns, and even more so for preterm babies, is the milk of their own mother, as this provides many factors that diminish the risk of various complications. After the first few days, different (fortifying) nutrients are added to optimise growth.
Risk of infection. Antibiotics are administered to preterm babies who are at risk of infection during labour, or who acquire an infection while they are in the hospital. If the infection is not confirmed, the antibiotics must be withdrawn as quickly as possible.
Difficulty breathing. They may need help to keep breathing effectively (oxygenation and ventilation): supplemental oxygen, non-invasive or invasive ventilation support, administration of surfactant, and so on.
Patient's haemodynamic constants (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) alter. If the patient have theses alterations will be required: increased intravascular volume and/or with medication to increase cardiac contractility or the tone of the blood vessels.
The treatment is specific to each of the different complications.
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Substantiated information by:
Ana Herranz BarberoNeonatologistNeonatology Department
Erika Sánchez OrtízNurseNeonatology Department
Maria Teresa Cobo CoboObstetricianMaternal–fetal Medicine Department
Marta Arnal AhullóNurseNeonatology Department
Mª Dolors Salvia RoigesNeonatologistNeonatology Department
Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018
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