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Newborn and Infant Care

Premature infant

08/01/2003

Question:

My baby was born at 34 weeks and is now 6 weeks old (her `newborn` age). How soon can I take her to public places (like church, the store, etc.)?

Also-How will her gestational age affect normal social and physical development (i.e smiling, rolling over, etc.)? Thanks for your help.

Answer:

Infants born before 40 weeks gestation are at an increased risk for infection. In utero the fetus receives immunity from their mother through immunoglobulins which cross the placenta during the last trimester. However, with a preterm infant (a baby born prior to forty weeks gestation), less immunoglobulin has been passed to the baby, and as a result they are quickly used up by the newborn. Without these immunoglobulins, your baby is at risk for infections. Some researchers feel this may be one reason bacterial infections are higher during the neonatal period and first year of life. You will need to discus her going to public places with her health care provider, since they are aware of her unique situation. The social and physical development will different for a child born prior to forty weeks, but how different depends on many variables which only her health care provider can answer. 

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati