Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are pre-term babies more susceptible to infection?"
Are there immune systems compromised?
Premature babies have many things about them that are special. Depending on how early they are born, they may have significant problems with their immune systems. Eventually their immune systems will be normal, but in the immediate period of being born small, the organs of the body that are involved in fighting off infections have not matured yet, and so they are at much higher risk of getting serious infections. For this reason, as well as for the many other challenges that premature babies face, they are usually cared for after birth in a special part of the hospital called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In the neonatal intensive care unit, specialized pediatricians called neonatologists watch over them. The NICU also has nursing staff and nutritionists who have taken special training in how to care for very small babies. If you are facing a situation in which you are about to have a baby born premature, you should contact your local NICU. Many NICUs have programs where, for example, pregnant mothers in premature labor can visit the NICU or have a visit from NICU staff to help answer their questions about what will happen once their baby is borne.
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