The effects of premature birth on the developing infant: Fact Sheet
Premature birth can be described as a birth that occurs before the estimated due date, this could take place three weeks earlier or more. In general, any birth that takes place before the onset of the 37th week of pregnancy (Howson et al., 2013). Previously, the definition of premature babies was 5.5 pounds or 2500 grams or less at birth. Preterm births are further divided into late or preterm if this occurs between 32nd and the 37th week of gestation, very preterm if this takes place between 28th and 32nd week, and extremely preterm if it occurs earlier than the 23rd week of the gestation period. Babies born prematurely are typically predisposed to medical complications although this varies depending on the complications of prematurity.
Preterm Births in the U.S.
- The percentage of premature births in the U.S has consistently decreased from12.8% in the year 2006 to 9.57% in 2014 (Statista.com).
- However, the percentage increased to 9.63% in the year 2015 and 9.85% in 2016.
- The states with higher rates of preterm births include Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky.
- As shown in the diagram below, the rate of preterm births is higher among the Blacks at 13.3%.
- American Indian/Alaska Natives and Hispanics closely follow at 10.4% and 9.1% respectively (Marchofdimes.org).
How the problem affects developing infants
Health Problems/Development complication
- Short-term complications
According to research, preterm babies have an immature immune system as well as other underdeveloped systems. These eventually dispose of premature babies to complications such as
- Breathing challenges
- Heart problems
- Immune system problems
- Metabolism problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Long-term complications
- Impaired learning- as compared to their full-term counterparts, preterm babies are likely to lag on several developmental milestones. In school, the preterm babies may have learning disabilities
- Cerebral palsy- preterm infants are at a higher risk of cerebral palsy, a disorder of muscle tone, movement, and posture
- Vision problems- preterm babies are likely to develop visual problems, especially after developing retinopathy. This visual disease arises after the blood vessels overgrow, pulling the retina out of its position. This condition may lead to impaired vision or total blindness.
- Hearing problems- preterm infants are at a higher risk of developing hearing problems leading to hearing loss.
- Behavioral/Psychological problems- preterm babies are more likely to develop certain psychological problems and behavioral problems as compared to full-term babies. Their developmental milestones may also significantly delay.
- Dental problems- premature infants may have delayed eruption of the tooth, improperly aligned teeth as well as to discoloration
How the research findings have influenced both social thinking and social policies about the problem
- The current qualitative and quantitative research has an enlightened society that pregnancy is not only a physical process but also a psychosocial process with many social and emotional changes, demands, and challenges (Kuipers, 2016).
- Research on preterm births has prompted social policies such as discouragement of elective and early-term deliveries
- Different states have adopted intensive prenatal case management for pregnant mothers
- Pregnant mothers are now aware and increasingly being urged against the use of drugs during their pregnancy terms
- At the workplace, pregnant women are now discouraged from engaging in strenuous activities or working overtime.
- According to Alderdice & Redshaw (2015), the use of a biopsychosocial model reveals that one of the major causes of preterm births is as a result of maternal stress.
- Maternal stress can be described as the discrepancy between a mother’s social, psychological, and biological resources and environmental demands.
- According to Newnham et al. (2014), high levels of social or psychological stress increase the risk of premature births as demonstrated by different randomized controlled studies.
- By adequately addressing maternal stress, the rate of premature births is likely to considerably reduce.
- For pregnant mothers, some recommended stress intervention programs include relaxation exercises, lifestyle changes, and emotion-focused coping techniques (Fontein-Kuipers, 2015).
In this particular study, the secondary research method was utilized. Secondary research consists of the collation, summarizing as well as synthesizing of research that is already existing.
Utilization of both categories of secondary research was undertaken; thus utilization of two different types of data;
- Internal data refers to the gathered information within the institution and health facilities. For instance; the reports derived from the previous primary research as well as customer databases
- External data describes the gathered information from the external environment of the institution as well as the facility. Particularly the media sourced information as well as the government reported statistics.
The secondary research methods have various strengths as well as weaknesses. Building on the strengths however will motivate good quantity data. The strengths of this research method include;
- Easy accessibility to the various secondary data sources. One could access the sources in libraries or the archived reports. Moreover, internet availability enhances the ease of the process of accessing information for the research. Thus, secondary research is significantly convenient.
- Acquirement costs are minimal and affordable; thus one could acquire highly valuable information with very minimal cost. One could even access information with no cost charges at all. Therefore, without the use of a team, a researcher could save on costs by researching by themselves.
- Research questions are vividly clarified with the utilization of secondary research. Furthermore, secondary research is more often than not utilized in clarification in primary research in the process of determining the focus of the research.
- The utilization of research data enables a researcher to effectively retrieve the answer to the research question. Focused on the secondary research process, one may discover the particular information they were working to determine.
- Identifies the obstacles in primary research by analyzing and effectively detailing the primary source.
The utilization of secondary research method holds several weaknesses as well, these include;
- Secondary research has its quality determined by the quality of the sources which are more often than not acquired from previous researches. If the original research was not carried out to produce quality data and information the quality of the research might be compromised. Therefore, it is critical to carry out a thorough evaluation of the reliability as well as the validity of all the information that has been provided.
- More often than not, secondary data tends not to present information in the manner the researcher requires. Thus, a researcher is required to depend on the presented secondary data that is classified to suit the requirements of the researcher.
- It is rare to find data that presents an entire version of the research. Therefore, secondary research has access to relatively limited information. Furthermore, suppliers of research tend to offer free research portions, but give an unreasonable charge to access the entire report of their studies.
- As carrying out secondary research it is vital to maintain a constant caution noting the date aged many years back.
In a clear conclusion, the utilization of secondary research brings forth significant strengths as well as weaknesses. However, to attain quality data it is vital for a researcher to effectively identify, then efficiently manage and reduce the effects of the weaknesses brought about by secondary research.
Fontein-Kuipers, Y. (2015). Reducing maternal anxiety and stress in pregnancy: what is the best approach?. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 27(2), 128-132.
Howson, C. P., Kinney, M. V., McDougall, L., & Lawn, J. E. (2013). Born too soon: preterm birth matters. Reproductive health, 10(1), S1.
Kuipers (2016) An Intervention to Prevent and Reduce Maternal Distress in the Netherlands – Its Development from Start to Finish. role in their general health. For instance, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and childbirth only affect Women Heal Int 2(1): 115. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19104/whi.2016.115
Marchofdimes.org. (2016). 2016 PREMATURE BIRTH REPORT CARD. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from https://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/premature-birth-report-card-united- states.pdf
Newnham, J. P., Dickinson, J. E., Hart, R. J., Pennell, C. E., Arrese, C. A., & Keelan, J. A. (2014). Strategies to prevent preterm birth. Frontiers in immunology, 5, 584.
Newnham, J. P., Dickinson, J. E., Hart, R. J., Pennell, C. E., Arrese, C. A., & Keelan, J. A. (2014). Strategies to Prevent Preterm Birth. Frontiers in Immunology, 5, 584. http://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2014.00584
Romero, R., Dey, S. K., & Fisher, S. J. (2014). Preterm labor: one syndrome, many causes. Science, 345(6198), 760-765.
Staneva, A., Bogossian, F., Pritchard, M., & Wittkowski, A. (2015). The effects of maternal depression, anxiety, and perceived stress during pregnancy on preterm birth: a systematic review. Women and Birth, 28(3), 179-193.
Statista.com. (n.d.). Preterm births share the United States 1990-2016 | Statistic. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/276075/us-preterm-birth-percentage/