If you are here reading, I hope that you enjoyed my first post! I will do my best to answer questions that come up along the way. Thank you for participating.
As I mentioned last time, research shows us that some people born preterm experience certain conditions more often than people born full-term. That is what being at “risk” for something means. It does not mean that everyone born preterm will develop the condition, but it does mean that the changes to the body that occurred when someone was born preterm, may make us more susceptible. We do not fully understand the mechanisms or ways those body changes contribute to risk – but we are working on figuring it out.
Luckily, most of the conditions are ones that other people experience too, for example, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, kidney disease, and anxiety. People born preterm might experience them earlier, or with slightly different symptoms. Because the conditions are so common, very often the connection with prematurity is missed and that can frustrate the person born preterm and their families.
So, what do we do about that?
One of the things my colleagues and I did was to write some recommendations for clinicians that we hope will help them understand what the research is showing, and provide some ways to help lessen or mitigate those risks. Knowing about these recommendations, specifically, the things we can do to help lessen the risks is important for people born preterm, their families and the healthcare team.
- Inform your healthcare team that you were born preterm, and if that does not seem to impress them, share this research summary and recommendations.
- Make sure to get your blood pressure checked every year, if it is high or trending up, discuss ways to manage blood pressure with your healthcare team.
- Avoid smoking, second-hand smoke and environmental smoke.
- Try to do some physical activity every day.
- Discuss with your healthcare team regular screens for diabetes, kidney disease and obesity.
These points to consider seem basic, but they are an important start. Remember, preterm birth can be a risk for very common things, some of which can be affected by doing some basic things.
Today’s post discussed physical health, we will talk about mental and behavioural health, as well as school performance in a future post!
Please remember, this is not meant as medical advice. You and your healthcare team know your individual history. Do not stop or start any treatments without discussing it with your healthcare team.
Thank you for reading, Michelle
Michelle M Kelly, PhD, CRNP, CNE, FAANP Associate Professor, Villanova University