Some premature babies face serious complications, such as these:
- Respiratory distress syndrome: A serious breathing problem that affects mainly babies born before 34 weeks of pregnancy.
- Bleeding in the brain: Most common in babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy. Bleeding in the brain is called intraventricular hemmorhage (IVH). It can cause pressure in the brain and brain damage.
- Patent ductus arteriosus: A heart problem that is common in premature babies. Untreated, it can lead to heart failure.
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC): A potentially dangerous intestinal problem.
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP): An eye problem that occurs mainly in babies born before 32 weeks of pregnancy. In severe cases, treatment is needed to help prevent vision loss.
We have made progress in learning about the routes that lead to preterm delivery. But we have a long way to go in developing treatments to prevent it. Researchers agree that we need to develop better screening tests to identify women destined to deliver early, and treatments that can be used early on to interrupt the cascade of events leading to prematurity.