Lagos — Dr Lois Obiekezie, a paediatrician in Alaba Ojo, Lagos State, said on Saturday that premature babies were not medically disadvantaged.
Obiekezie said that premature babies were only under-weight with weights ranging between 0. 9kg to 1.5 kg.
She said the lungs of the babies were tender and they had difficulty in breathing.
"Because of the tender nature of the respiratory system, immediately they are born, we put them inside an incubator to preserve them.
"They are also prone to infections at this stage and so are treated with the highest level of hygiene.
"Breast milk is extracted from the mother and administered to the child, who even finds it difficult to eat appropriately.
"It is not advisable to bath them with water at this stage, rather, olive oil is used to clean up their body, " the doctor said.
She said that the fact that a child was born premature did not in any way restrict the child's performance or put him in a disadvantaged position
"Surprisingly, most of these children are very active and intelligent against the negative conceptions of some individuals.
"Research has shown that more than 60 per cent of them develop rapid growth and excel well in life, " Obiekezie said.
Another paediatrician, Dr Kelechi Odinaka, described premature babies as those born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation.
He said when a child was born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, the respiratory organ is unprepared to handle the affairs of the child, hence the use of an incubator.
"A common deficiency in premature birth is that of coronary compliance, which results in respiratory distress syndrome.
"Where a child is born premature, he/she is weak and fragile and the organs are too delicate and unfit to independently cope with sustaining the life of the child.
"The child is then put in an artificial life sustainer which helps in preserving the life and provides a regulated temperature which aids the breathing of the child.
"Being premature, however, does not mean that the child would forever have a deficiency in breathing, it is only a passing phase which a greater majority of them are able to overcome," he said.
Odinaka, however, advised pregnant women to attend ante-natal clinics before delivery.
NAN reports that Nov. 17 of every year is set aside for creating awareness on premature births.