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When a baby is born, one of the first concerns is their weight. A baby with an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) alerts the physician to a possible problem. The extremely low birth weight infants are those born with less than 1,500g (James, Wood, Nair, & Williams, 2018). According to Robbins, Hutchings, Dietz, Kuklina, & Callaghan (2014), about 40% of babies born with extremely low birth weight end up with a fairly significant disease. The diseases are cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness in both eyes, hearing loss, significant chronic disease that requires special medication, and often frequent hospitalization. Getting prenatal care before and during pregnancy ensures the well-being of the mother and a healthy baby.
Effect of Extremely Low Birth Weight Babies on Family and Community
Babies born with extremely low birth weight have various health and developmental complications. The birth of a baby with ELBW can result in substantial emotional and economic costs to the families. Also, the public sector services can be strained as a result. These services include social support systems, educational, and health insurance services. In the short term, the babies may require life support in the neonatal care unit because readmission risk is high. Often, the babies have immature brains and respiratory distress that will need ventilators.
Premature babies may have long-term impacts like poor health and growth, mental retardation, visual and hearing impairments, and cerebral palsy. The majority of the babies will have issues relating to breathing and feeding. The more premature the baby is, the system in the baby is premature. They will therefore have unique and life-threatening problems with each one of those systems. The babies born premature may exhibit learning difficulties, high risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, high risk of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, socioemotional and behavioral problems. The loss of an infant is a demoralizing experience for a family.
There are significant disparities in premature and low birth weights of infants. Minority groups, the marginalized, and the poor are at a greater risk of premature and extremely low birth weight. An example of the disparities among minority populations is native Americans and African Americans to non-Hispanic white births. According to Martin, Hamilton, Osterman, and Driscoll (2019), the preterm birth rate was 10.23 in 2019. In the same year, the preterm birth rate for non-Hispanic black mothers was 14.39% as compared to 8.72% of non-Hispanic Asian mothers and 11.51% for the Hispanic subgroups. Infants born of mothers of low socioeconomic rank are more likely to be born prematurely. African Americans are at a higher risk due to a higher population of low socioeconomic status.
Prematurity is associated with increased risks for developmental delay, vision problems, hearing problems, and family stress. To assist with the problem of preterm infants in both families and the community, several measures can be implemented. Health care service providers. A developmental screening can be conducted using evidence-based tools at 9,18, and 30 months. In addition, a general screening should be done at every visit. The primary caregiver should also schedule other visits as required. For the preterm babies, the milestones should be closely monitored. A careful check of movement and tone abnormalities. The examination of the infants should focus on milestones, hypertonia, hypotonia, reflexes, abnormal movements, and postures. Healthcare practitioners can adopt a socially suitable structure for the diverse patient population. The health care workers and the general public can be educated on the effect of preterm delivery and extremely low birth weight as issues in public health. To reduce disparities, healthier physical and social environments should be promoted.
James, E., Wood, C. L., Nair, H., & Williams, T. C. (2018). Preterm Birth and The Timing of Puberty: A Systematic Review. BMC Pediatrics, 18(1), 1-12.
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