Summary

  • A premature infant is an infant born before 37 weeks' gestation. Prematurity has an occurrence of 10% to 12% of live births in the US.
  • In addition to immediate post-birth resuscitation, efforts to reduce excessive oxygen exposure, hyperventilation, hypothermia, and hypoglycemia must be made. Consultation with a neonatologist as soon as possible is recommended to provide expertise to reduce potential morbidity.
  • Gestational age determination done within hours of birth is important for designating further care of the premature newborn. The risk of adverse outcomes varies inversely with gestational age.
  • The New Ballard Score uses measurements of neuromuscular and physical maturity to complement the maternal history and ultrasonographic findings to estimate gestational age, although a first-trimester ultrasound remains the most accurate assessment of gestational age.
  • Extremely premature infants (gestational age <28 weeks) exhibit the greatest morbidity and mortality, although complications may occur with any degree of prematurity.

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