Everyone knows the scary stories about babies born way too soon-the
long stays in the hospital and risks that linger for years. But
what about the babies who arrive between 32 and 36 weeks?
Dr. Rupa Nimmagadda, a Chicago-based pediatrician and former
director of the neonatal follow-up clinic at the University of
Chicago Hospitals, says while those babies appear completely
healthy, they also have their own unique health risks.
The main risk is that these babies are less able to fight
infection than full-term infants because their lung development and
immunoglobulin transmission wasn't complete. "I don't think we need
to shock people," Nimmagadda says about warning parents of the
risks, but "the first year of their life, I would be very vigilant
just to make sure things are OK."
• Focus on prevention. Minimize exposure to illness, stress
hand-washing around baby and get flu shots.
• Put babies on their back to sleep, especially babies with
low birth weight, because they are at a higher risk for SIDS. Get
tummy time when the baby is awake.
• Don't smoke. Even secondhand smoke puts babies at risk.
Those born at 32-36 weeks are at a higher risk than full-term
babies because their lungs are not as developed.
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