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NRS 434VNN Topic 1 DQ 1
Describe the effect of extremely low birth weight babies on the family and community. Consider short-term and long-term impacts, socioeconomic implications, the need for ongoing care, and comorbidities associated with prematurity. Explain how disparities relative to ethnic and cultural groups may contribute to low birth weight babies. Identify one support service within your community to assist with preterm infants and their families and explain how the service adequately addresses the needs of the community, or a population in your community. Provide the link to the resource in your post.
Low birth weight, or premature birth is the number one cause of infant mortality. The biggest concern is that the babies who survive are then in need of extensive care. Not only does this cause emotional harm on the family, but it also has a strong impact on the community. This world not only refers to their new hometowns, but many times these families are forced to leave their homes and cultures of origin to relocate for appropriate treatment for their low birth weight babies. Low income families and ethnic minorities tend to be most at risk for these outcomes as well as geographic location due to exposure to air pollution from power plants that may be used for heat as an alternative during winter months in colder regions. Many areas lack resources because they are so sparsely populated and don’t have a large community to support the growing population of preterm infants.
We hear about extremely low birth weight (ELBW) babies daily, either in the news or through friends. Although this population is frequently discussed, it is still a very small proportion of the overall population affected by preterm birth.
Low birth weight babies are defined as infants weighing less than 2,500g at birth. Babies with low birth weight are more prone to comorbidities and are more likely to have a lower survival rate. High risk factors for low birth weight include: poverty, young maternal age, substance abuse, in utero chromosomal abnormalities, failure to thrive during the pregnancy, fetal malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction, diabetes mellitus and renal failure. Low birth weight babies are at greater risk for developing chronic diseases later in their lives including hypertension, heart disease and type II Diabetes.
An extremely low birth weight newborn is a term given to a baby that weighs between 500 to 1000 grams at birth. According to the March of Dimes, about 1 in 10 babies worldwide are born prematurely [xi] .
Our smallest babies are among the most vulnerable. Their birth weight is typically less than 1500 grams, or close to 3.5 pounds, with no expectation to survive beyond a month or two. Sometimes they succumb to an infection. Sometimes they suffer bio-chemical or neurological deficits that were not fully developed before birth. Most often, though, premature babies do eventually pass away – not in the first few days, but in the months that follow.