How do preemies develop differently?

Pediatrician Tanya Altmann discusses how premature, or “preemie”, babies might develop differently than a full-term baby.
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How do preemies develop differently?


- A baby that is born before 37 weeks of age is considered premature, and some premature babies are born looking just like full term babies, and some are born so early that they can have other issues because their lungs aren't fully developed yet. So how your premature baby does depends on when they're born and what problems they have after they're born. With excellent neonatologists, and NICUs, and all of the modern technologies, premature babies do very well, and we have excellent ways of helping them live and continue their life outside the womb until they reach the point where they're able to go home just as a full term baby would. By the time your baby goes home with you, often they're fine. Sometimes they may need medication. They may need some oxygen, or they may need to be followed by a specialist, depending on what issues they have. Once your baby is feeding on their own and breathing on their own, they usually catch up fairly quickly, and parents will often ask me when we're looking at the growth chart, "When will my preterm baby catch up to regular babies of their own age?" And generally that happens sometime in the first year of age. They may start off below the growth chart for height and weight, but with time, as long as you keep feeding them, especially breastfeeding them, they will catch up, usually by around one year of age.

Pediatrician Tanya Altmann discusses how premature, or “preemie”, babies might develop differently than a full-term baby.


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Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP


A leading medical authority for the popular press and entertainment industry, Dr. Tanya Altmann is a best-selling author, parenting expert and media spokesperson. A working mother and UCLA-trained pediatrician who practices in Southern California, Dr. Tanya is a designated spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, communicating complicated medical issues into easily understood concepts.  She is a child health expert for numerous news programs and talk shows including Today (NBC), and KTLA (CW Los Angeles). She stays on the cutting edge through her position as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, as the Chief Medical Advisor for the Newborn Channel and her private practice.

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