December 11, 2022
Stimulate their development and know the neurological sequelae that the little ones can present
The survival rate of premature babies is increasingly high due to good care in neonatology units, medical management, and existing technology. However, it is important to highlight the possible neurological sequelae that they may suffer due to the immaturity of their organs.
According to recent records from the Ministry of Health, from January to October 2022, 27,383 premature births were reported, which represents 6.89% of the total live births in the country. When a baby is born prematurely, they have a higher risk of suffering multiple consequences, from respiratory difficulties to motor disabilities.
A baby is considered premature when they are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. However, premature babies can be divided into subcategories based on gestational age. For example, late (32 to 37 weeks), moderate (31 to 33.5 weeks), severe (28 to 30.5 weeks), and extreme (less than 28 weeks). The latter weigh less than 1,500 grams and have a 5 to 10% chance of suffering from a neurodevelopment disorder.
“If the newborn weighs less than 1,000 grams, the risk increases to 20%; and if it is less than 800 grams, it increases to 40%,” warns Dr. Pamela Muñoz, pediatric neurologist at Clinica Ricardo Palma, after explaining that when a premature baby is born, their brain is in a developmental phase called organization. At this stage, different neurons make connections or synapses, so all connections in their mechanisms can occur inadequately, causing a series of problems.
In this context, the baby has a higher risk of motor alterations due to injuries to the connections of neurons in motor circuits related to movement control. This can cause cerebral palsy, motor retardation, hypertonia (stiff or tight muscles), and hypotonia (flaccidity),” she says.
However, these are not the only sequelae that a premature baby can have, they can also present language and difficulty delays, behavioral and attention problems, memory disorders, cognitive deficits, attention deficits and hyperactivity, autism, anxiety disorders, and other emotional and psychiatric problems.
Every parent of a premature baby should be informed that their child has a high neurological risk and a higher possibility of presenting some difference in their neurodevelopment, so they should regularly stimulate them and consult their pediatrician about any doubts they may have.
In addition, they should take the child for checkups with a neuropediatrician to detect any alteration during their growth. It is advisable to take it at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months and then at 5 and 7 years of age.
To avoid premature births, it is recommended to attend monthly pregnancy check-ups, control underlying diseases (diabetes, hypertension, rheumatologic conditions, among others), gestation before the age of 36, stop smoking and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Pamela Muñoz
Pediatric neurologist of Clinica Ricardo Palma