Premature

The most common digestive problems in premature babies


All pregnant woman You really want to see your little one's face, but you never expect or want this circumstance to get ahead, because you are aware of the difficulties that the baby may have in the first months. Premature babies, those born before the 37th week of pregnancy, require a series of special care to avoid delays in their development. Today, we want to tell you about the digestive problems premature babies.

Anticipating the birth of a baby is practically impossible, and therefore, for mothers, it comes as a surprise to us, with hormones on the surface and little prepared to face the situation of giving birth to a premature baby for the problems you may have. Among others, premature babies are often affected by certain problems related to their digestive tracts of greater or lesser severity, usually depending on the prematurity of the child.

1. Gastroesophageal reflux
Reflux affects more than half of the babies born prematurely. In these cases, the stomach content finds a way to return to the esophagus given the immaturity of its digestive system (valve and / or muscles that control the link between the esophagus and the stomach) and the baby expels it, either in small quantities. or in the form of vomit.

Babies can spit up daily without reflux, so other symptoms, such as discomfort after ingesting milk, irritability, and poor weight gain, must accompany spitting up to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux.

In cases where postural measures (increasing the incubator angle) do not help, there is medication to treat symptoms in these cases. premature babies, that normally outgrow reflux when the digestive system is more mature (around 7-12 months depending on prematurity).

2. Meconium ileus
It is a condition in which the meconium is so thick and sticky that it causes the walls of the large intestine to stick together, causing an obstruction. The first symptom is lack of meconium in the first hours / days of life.

Although about 90% of babies with this condition also suffer from cystic fibrosis, it is possible that it appears in newborns in whom there are no other health problems, apart from the usual ones of prematurity. Milder cases can be resolved using a probe to evacuate the meconium, while more serious cases may require surgical removal.

3. Necrotizing enterocolitis
This disease affects, in greater numbers, the very premature, especially those less than 28 weeks. The lining of the intestine becomes weak, inflamed, infected and can even, in the most severe cases, degrade to the point of requiring surgery to remove that part of the intestine.

The variety of symptoms is wide, depending on whether the lesions are small or whether there are intestinal perforations, but in general, the baby is lethargic and with problems feeding or tolerating feeding, has a distended abdomen and its stools may be accompanied of blood.

In addition to treating enterocolitis With antibiotics, it is necessary to re-evaluate the feeding system of the premature infant to allow his stomach to rest, so options such as feeding via nasogastric tube or, in more severe cases, intravenously are a priority. Interestingly, preterm infants who are fed only colostrum / breast milk have a much lower risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis.

4. Jaundice
Although not a proper digestive problem of premature babiesYes, it is related to food. Jaundice is the appearance of yellow pigmentation on the skin due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a substance made by the liver by breaking down red blood cells. The liver itself participates in its decomposition, facilitating its elimination via faeces. More than 80% of premature babies suffer from jaundicesince their liver is more immature and works inefficiently, making these babies more prone than full-term babies.

Generally, this condition is treated with special ultraviolet lights and by means of a direct feed control, since when the baby does not receive enough milk or does not feed properly the condition can worsen. There are very few more serious cases in which a rapid increase in bilirubin levels in the blood can cause serious damage to the brain (Kernicterus).

All these setbacks will be overcome by the newborn thanks to the assistance and control of the doctors, but also to skin-to-skin contact, which can be established through caresses, hugs and massages.

Life takes many turns and brings us many surprises too. That is what happened to this nurse in a hospital newborn unit. For years she cared for critically ill premature babies, treating them as if they were her own children. Years later, the families of these babies whose lives were saved by the nurse paid this precious tribute. Don't miss it!

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Video: Common GI Medications in Pregnancy Rimma Shaposhnikov, MD. UCLA Digestive Diseases (October 2020).