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Prematurity Problems: Other

Apnea of prematurity is by far the most common cause of apnea (a pause in breathing for 15 -20 seconds) in an infant born at 34 weeks, and is due to the immature respiratory centres in the premature infants brain. If an infant stops breathing this results in lower oxygen levels and the baby becoming blue in colour. Bradycardia (slowing of the heart) will then result.

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a form of lung injury, which occurs in infants who have had severe RDS , lung infection, were extremely premature at birth or were on a mechanical ventilation device. To decrease the risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a doctor usually places an infant on a ventilator only when necessary and for the shortest period possible.

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) . NEC is an inflammation causing destruction or even death ( necrosis ) of part of the bowel. This may occur in premature infants who have immature and fragile bowels and are sensitive to changes in blood flow as well as to infection. Symptoms of this uncommon disorder include blood in the stool, swollen stomach and vomiting bile-coloured (i.e. green) stomach contents. Due to the severity of this condition, doctors may start treatment simply on the suspicion that an infant may be developing symptoms of NEC.

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is abnormal growth of blood vessels in a baby's eye, which is most common in babies who are very premature , more than 12 weeks early. As the development of blood vessels in the eye is a process that is finished only shortly before birth, the process may not continue normally in very premature infants.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):

1. University of Wisconsin and The Center For Perinatal Care at Meriter Hospital Madison, Wisconsin:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Apnea of Prematurity
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
Necrotizing enterocolitis
Retinopathy of Prematurity


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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004