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Ashlee is Mama of one darling boy. A 28 week early bird, now 1 and some change, doing beautifully. She lives near Chicago with her sweetheart husband and French Bulldog. She's a thinker not afraid to get her silly on. Babywearer, veggie queen, photography nut. Before the domestic days Ashlee was pursuing a future in developmental psychology but has happily shifted gears in favor of staying at home and couldn't imagine doing anything else. In her free time (ha!) you can find her whipping up babyslings, holding down the fort at Mama Speaks and spotlighting as an Itsy Bitsy Yoga Instructor.

The Difference a Day Makes...

Today is National Prematurity Day, you can help by supporting the PREEMIE Act

Each day a baby gets in his mama's womb makes a world of difference... here's an interesting summary of babies medical outlook at different gestations (source: March of Dimes) As a point of reference Xavier was born at 28 weeks, weighing 3 pounds 4 ounces.

What is the outlook for babies born at less than 28 weeks?
Fewer than 1 percent of babies in this country are born this early, but these babies have the most complications. Most of these babies are born at very low birthweight (less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces). Those born at less than 26 weeks are likely to weigh only 1 to 2 pounds. Almost all will require treatment with oxygen, surfactant, and mechanical assistance to help them breathe. These babies are too immature to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time, so they must be fed through a vein (intravenously) until they develop these skills. They often cannot yet cry (or you cannot hear them due to the tube in their throat) and they sleep most of the day. These tiny babies have little muscle tone and most move very little.

Babies born at this time look very different than full-term babies. Their skin is wrinkled and reddish-purple in color, and is so thin that you can see the blood vessels underneath. Their face and body are covered in soft hair called lanugo. Because these babies have not had time to put on fat, they appear very thin. Most likely, their eyes are closed and they have no eyelashes.

These babies are at high risk for one or more of the complications discussed above. However, most babies born after about 26 weeks gestation do survive to one year (about 80 percent at 26 weeks and about 87 percent at 27 weeks), although they may face an extended stay in the NICU. Unfortunately, about 20 to 40 percent of the very lowest birthweight babies develop serious lasting disabilities.

What about babies born at 28 to 31 weeks gestation?
These babies look quite similar to babies born earlier, although they are larger (usually between 2 and 5 pounds) and even more likely to survive (about 90 to 95 percent). Most require treatment with oxygen, surfactant, and mechanical assistance to help them breathe. Some of these babies can be fed breast milk or formula through a tube placed through their nose or mouth into the stomach, although others will need to be fed intravenously.

Some of these babies can cry. They can move more, although their movements may be jerky. A baby born at this time can grasp your finger. These babies can open their eyes and they begin to stay awake and alert for short periods.

Babies born at 28 to 31 weeks are at risk for some of the complications discussed above; however, when complications occur, they may not be as severe. Babies born with very low birthweight remain at risk for serious disabilities.

What about babies born at 32 to 35 weeks gestation?
More than 98 percent of babies born at this time survive. Most weigh between 3 and 7 pounds, and most appear thinner than full-term babies. Some can breathe on their own, and many others just need supplemental oxygen to help them breathe. Some can be breast- or bottle-fed, although babies born at less than 34 weeks or having breathing difficulties will probably need tube-feeding. Babies born after about 34 weeks are unlikely to develop serious disabilities resulting from premature birth, though they may remain at increased risk of subtle learning and behavioral problems.

Are babies born at 36 weeks gestation at risk of medical problems?
Most babies born at this time require little or no special care after birth, and they are nearly as likely as full-term babies to survive. They usually weigh between 4 and 8 pounds, and may still appear thinner than full-term babies. Some will experience mild problems, such as breathing difficulties or jaundice, but most will make a quick recovery. Most of these babies can be breast- or bottle-fed, although some (especially those with mild breathing problems) may need tube-feeding for a brief time. These babies are very unlikely to develop serious disabilities resulting from premature birth.

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