In a previous story, we reported on 18 Kids and Counting mom Michelle Duggar having to undergo an emergency C-section because of a complication of pregnancy called preeclampsia. Baby Josie Brooklyn Dugger was born at 25 weeks gestation and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. In this week’s People magazine, Michelle and husband Jim Bob Duggar talk about some of the difficulties associated with being born so prematurely, and about how well Josie is doing now. About a week about birth, Josie developed a bowel perforation (a hole in the bowel). She was transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock for non-surgical treatment. According to her physician, Dr. Robert Arrington, co-director of the NICU, “She developed a spontaneous bowel perforation. She responded to placement of an abdominal drain, plus antibiotics, and did not require an open operation.” Although regulations at Arkansas Children’s Hospital do not allow under-aged visitors to come into the unit, Josie’s 18 other siblings are getting to know her from nightly video reports that Jim Bob takes with his i-Phone.
Photo source- WikiCommons
What is a Micro-Preemie?
Normal gestation for a human is 40 weeks. Babies are considered premature if they are delivered before 37 weeks. When babies are born at 29 weeks of before, they are considered micro-preemies.
What are the external differences between a micro-preemie and a full term baby?
Babies gain layers of body fat during their last few weeks in the womb. Babies born earlier than 30 weeks have not had time to develop fat layers, making their skin look wrinkled and translucent. Veins and arteries are visible and give the baby a reddish-purple coloration. The lack of fat also makes the micro-preemies appear to have extremely long fingers and toes, which will take on their plumper appearance as the fat builds up with age. The top layer of skin is also immature and it is very fragile. This limits contact to gentle touching only. Micro-preemies have not had time to develop body hair and head hair may only appear as light fuzz.
Micro-preemies born before week 26 may have eyes that are fused shut. Their eyes will open on their own once they pass week 26.
Babies born before the 35th week have not had a chance to develop firm cartilage in their ears. It is not uncommon for their ears to fold over and stay that way until gently pushed back by an adult’s finger.
Micro-preemies do not have enough muscle tone to move very much. Instead of curling their limbs the way full-term babies do, micro-preemies usually lie flat on their backs with their arms and legs splayed out. Muscle tone will increase as the baby ages. Preemies can generally curl themselves into the fetal position by week 35.
What are the complications for micro-premies?
Every organ system is immature in the premature baby and can lead to problems, however the most frequent complications from extreme prematurity include: