Common Problems Experienced By The Premature Baby Or “Late Preterm Infant” Week #7 - Development

Debbie Burroughs

A baby’s brain at 35 weeks gestation weighs only two-thirds of what it will weigh at full term. Late preterm infants have a higher risk of developmental delays, learning disabilities and behavioral problems. These babies need close developmental follow-up so that any problems can be identified early. This way, early intervention programs can be begun as soon as possible to help improve the baby’s outcome. Although late preterm infants may look just like their full-term counterparts, they may have many unique challenges and must stay in the hospital until they can do everything a full-term baby can do. The criteria for discharge to home include: maintaining a stable body temperature without support, taking in an adequate amount of milk, demonstrating an adequate pattern of weight gain, showing stable or resolved jaundice and showing no significant breathing or heart rate irregularities on electronic monitoring during a 3 - 7 day period of observation. The most common duration of hospital stay at Saint Elizabeth for an infant born at 35 weeks is 9 - 10 days while an infant born at 36 weeks may only need 4 - 9 days in the NICU. Stays as long as 30 days have been required before some late preterm infants have met the criteria for a safe discharge from the hospital.