Premature babies – developmental features for months to a year, nutrition, weight gain and newborn care

The content of the article

Prematurely considered a child who was born before 38 weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth can be provoked by many social factors, as well as the state of health of the expectant mother, her obstetric history. Newborn premature babies, regardless of the degree of underdevelopment, need special care, especially in the first weeks of life.

Who are premature babies?

An infant who was born during the period from 22 to 37 weeks of pregnancy, weighing from 500 to 2500 grams and body length from 27 to 45 cm, is considered premature. Such children differ from full-term newborns by the insolvency, immaturity of almost all systems and organs of the body, as a result of which special care is required for premature babies.

Signs of Prematurity

The main clinical external signs of an immature newborn include disproportionate physique, open fontanelles (lateral and small) of the skull, undeveloped fatty tissue or its complete absence, hyperemia of the skin, underdevelopment of the external and internal genital organs, physiological reflexes characteristic of full-term peers. In severe cases, apnea, weakness or lack of muscle tone occurs.

Newborn in the hands of a physician

Anatomical and physiological characteristics of the child

Depending on the severity, the following anatomical and physiological features are distinguished in a baby who was born prematurely:

  1. The cardiovascular system is characterized by the presence of tachycardia (150-180 beats / min), muffled tones, functional hypotension of the newborn. At the third and fourth degree, defects of the heart septum are often present (open oval window).
  2. Respiratory system. In premature infants, narrow upper airways and a high standing of the diaphragm are noted, which leads to the occurrence of apnea and respiratory failure. Children with the third and fourth degree of prematurity have been on mechanical ventilation for a long time, because organs are not ripe and cannot fulfill their function.
  3. Skin and subcutaneous tissue. In infants born prematurely, subcutaneous fat is almost completely absent, sweat and sebaceous glands do not function, as a result of which the body is not able to independently regulate body temperature.
  4. Gastrointestinal tract. In premature infants, functional insufficiency of all sections of the digestive tract, low enzymatic activity of the pancreas and stomach.
  5. Excretory system. Immaturity of the urinary system leads to disruption of the electrolyte balance in the body, decompensated metabolic acidosis and a tendency to edema, rapid dehydration.

Causes of Prematurity

Several groups of risk factors are statistically distinguished, in the presence of which women have a high risk of giving birth to a baby prematurely:

  1. Socio-biological factors. They suggest too early or late pregnancy (the age of the parents is less than 16-18 or more than 40-45 years), the presence of bad habits in women, poor living conditions, and the presence of occupational hazards. In addition, the risk of giving birth to a premature baby is higher in those girls who are not observed in antenatal clinics during pregnancy.
  2. Dysfunctional obstetric-gynecological history and pathological course of the present or past pregnancy. This includes a history of abortion, miscarriage, multiple pregnancy, placental abruption, etc. High risks of premature birth can be in women who have an interval between births of less than two years..
  3. Chronic extragenital diseases of the mother: hypertension, endocrine disorders, chronic infections.


The clinical classification according to the ICD of preterm infants according to three criteria (weight, height, gestational age) suggests four degrees of severity:

  1. The first degree of prematurity is assigned to the baby if delivery occurs at a period of 36-37 weeks of pregnancy; weight is not less than 2000 g, and the length of the body is 41 cm. At the same time, spontaneous breathing is observed, the possibility of breastfeeding. However, the infant needs the supervision of a pediatrician and the control of thermoregulation of the body.
  2. The second degree of prematurity is assigned to a baby who was born at a period of 32 to 35 weeks with a weight of 1501 to 2000 g, a height of 36 to 40 cm. As a rule, such babies have a weak sucking reflex, so you have to feed the baby with a special mixture using a probe low muscle tone, immaturity of the respiratory system.
  3. The third degree in children born from 28 to 31 weeks of gestation, body weight is from 1001 to 1500 g, and height is from 30 to 35 cm. Such babies are considered to be deeply premature and need intensive care under the supervision of doctors. The baby is in a closed incubator, breastfeeding or a mixture is carried out through a probe due to the complete absence of a sucking reflex.
  4. The fourth degree of prematurity is assigned at birth earlier than 28 weeks from the start of pregnancy, body weight is less than 1000 g, body length is less than 30 cm. For such children, the term “extremely low birth weight infants” is used in neonatology.

Baby in boxing

Monthly weight of a premature baby

The body weight of a premature baby increases as much as possible in the first six months of life (from 500 to 700 grams per month). By the end of the first year, the weight of a healthy newborn should be 9-10 kg. The rate of weight gain depends on the degree of miscarriage, concomitant diseases, congenital pathologies of organs and systems, and, especially, on the type of nutrition of the baby.

Age months

The average weight of the child with various degrees of prematurity, grams






2100 – 2800

1900 – 2400

1300 – 1900

1250 – 1700


2900 – 3400

2500 – 2800

2000 – 2600

1500 – 2300


3500 – 3900

3200 – 3700

2700 – 3200

2200 – 3000


4200 – 4500

3900 – 4400

4300 – 4800

2900 – 3700


4900 – 5200

4500 – 5000

5100 – 5500

3600 – 4500


5400 – 5900

5100 – 5700

5500 – 6300

4100 – 5200


6100 – 6600

5800 – 6400

6200 – 7100

4800 – 5700


6800 – 7300

6300 – 7200

6900 – 7900

5600 – 6000


7300 – 8200

7000 – 8500

7300 – 8500

6100 – 6500


7800 – 8700

7300 – 8000

7600 – 8900

6700 – 7000


8100 – 9000

7700 – 9200

7700 – 9200

7200 – 7700


8400 – 9300

8400 – 9500

8400 – 9500

7800 – 8200

Monthly development of premature babies

Modern medicine cannot accurately draw the line between the consequences of prematurity and the pathological conditions that arise in a baby born prematurely. The frequency of neurological, mental and physical disorders is due to the harmful effects of the internatal period, their negative impact on the immature central nervous system. However, as the babies grow and develop, birth defects are corrected. The table shows the development of a premature baby by months to a year.

Premature age

Neuropsychic development

1-3 months

During the first three months of life, the baby has increased drowsiness, rare, weak crying, the absence of periods of activity, decreased appetite. Children born with a body weight of more than 2000 grams, in the second month of life are actively awake after feeding, actively, suck a lot of breast milk.

4-6 months

At the age of 4-6 months, the functionality of the analyzer organs further develops in the premature baby (the newborn by the sound looks for an object with his eyes, examines bright, colorful toys), performs manipulations with objects (at first they feel, grab suspended toys), and begin to rest on their feet. During this period, the baby lies on his stomach for a long time, answers the voice of his parents with a long smile, actively moves his arms and legs.

7-9 months

The baby during this period develops the first speech reactions (long walks, pronounces separate simple syllables). He flips from his back to his stomach and vice versa, trying to crawl. During wakefulness, the child is engaged in toys a lot, examine, tap, and hold them in their hands for a long time. Children start to eat from a spoon, drink from a cup held by an adult.

10-12 months

At the age of 10 to 12 months, the baby is actively crawling, can sit down himself, gets up to the barrier with support. As a rule, he walks freely, holding on to objects slightly. Children respond to the speech of adults addressed to them, babble a lot, make an abyss themselves, begin to pronounce simple monosyllables.

Feeding a baby with a spoon

Weekly survival of premature infants

The chances of surviving a child who was born prematurely depend on how many weeks he developed in the womb. According to the World Health Organization, a fetus is considered viable if it was born no earlier than 22-23 weeks and weighing at least 500 grams. Survival at this period is only 10-12%. Born at weeks 25-28 recover in 60-70% of cases; at 29-30 weeks, this figure is already 90%. Babies born over 31 weeks survive 95%.

What is dangerous birth before 37 weeks

If the baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation, then he has a functional immaturity of all organs and systems. Seven-month-old children tend to suffer from acute respiratory failure and central nervous system failure. Such children lag behind their peers not only in physical, but also in mental development. In addition, the underdevelopment of the excretory system can lead to the accumulation of toxins in the body, prolonged physiological jaundice.

Future implications

The immaturity of the organs of children that are born prematurely in the future may adversely affect their health. The most common complications:

  • rickets;
  • heart failure;
  • hydrocephalus of the brain;
  • retinopathy of prematurity;
  • early anemia;
  • severe diseases of the internal organs;
  • chronic renal failure;
  • psychomotor disturbances;
  • endocrine gland failure.

Care for premature babies

The nursing of children born prematurely in the maternity hospital is carried out regardless of the degree of prematurity and represents additional heating of the newborn from the moment of birth, rational oxygen therapy, dosed feeding. In the delivery room, the baby is immediately dried with warm sterile diapers and immediately placed in an incubator to prevent heat loss. Premature babies with birth weight less than 1800 g need additional heating for several weeks. Chamber temperature should be 24-25 ° C.

Bathing children born prematurely begin at two weeks of age every other day. Weighing is carried out daily; height, head and chest circumference is measured at least 1 time per week. Spreading a premature baby on the stomach begins as early as possible, which helps to increase the oxygen concentration in the blood and helps to reduce regurgitation, normalize muscle tone.

A healthy premature baby who is able to maintain normal body temperature without additional heating, constantly gaining weight and when reaching 2000 g, can be discharged home in case of good healing of the umbilical wound, normal hemogram and other laboratory tests. As a rule, discharge is made not earlier than 7-9 days after birth.


At the initial stage of nursing a premature baby, an incubator or incubator is used to maintain a constant body temperature, optimal feeding with a probe. There are several types of incubators:

  1. Resuscitation. Such a cuvez, in addition to heating, a system for controlling the concentration of oxygen in the air, ECG, EEG, heart rate monitor. Thanks to modern incubators of this type in nursing departments, there is a therapy for newborn babies even with minimal vital indicators at birth.
  2. Transport. It is necessary for the transportation of a newborn including and at low temperatures, it is equipped with heating, supplied with oxygen. Such an incubator is facilitated due to the absence of a metal frame, while the baby is fixed with special straps.
  3. Open. Used for nursing children of the first degree of prematurity. Helps maintain a newborn constant body temperature. In the absence of complications, constant weight gain, stay in such an incubator is 7-10 days.

Newborn in an incubator

Feeding Features

The first feeding depends on the degree of prematurity, birth weight and general health. In the absence of severe pathologies, a premature baby receives food already in the first day of life: in the first degree, feeding begins 2-3 hours after birth, by applying them to the mother’s chest. At 2-3 degrees, they are fed from a special horn or probe. A premature baby of the fourth degree with low weight is fed first parenterally, then using a probe with a special mixture.

It is optimal to feed a woman with milk or colostrum of a woman’s breast, because it is characterized by a high content of essential protein, electrolytes, polyunsaturated fatty acids (linolenic acid promotes high rates of myelination and synthesis of prostaglandins), low lactose content, a huge amount of antibodies and immunoglobulins that protect newborns from infections.

Medical examination

Premature babies should be monitored especially carefully by doctors after discharge from the hospital to reduce the risk of developing serious pathologies in the future, normalizing the rate of weight gain of small babies when feeding on artificial feeding, and improving indicators of physical development. Inspection of the pediatrician during the first month of life is 1 r / week, from 2 to 12 – 1 r / month. Consultation of narrow specialists is necessary only in the first month of life, after only 2 r / year. Prevention vaccinations are carried out according to an individual plan..

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