Premature birth is a serious and very common health issue. In the US alone, almost half a million babies are born prematurely each year—that's around 1 in every 8 babies. Figures in Canada are also staggeringly high.
What you may not know is that with prematurity comes a greater risk of a myriad health and developmental problems. Since these teeny babies can't speak for themselves, it's up to us to advocate for them. November is designated as Prematurity Awareness Month.
As a preemie's lung volume is around half of that of a full-term infant, the latter is more susceptible to pneumonia and/or bronchiolitis (swelling of the lower airways).
A contagious respiratory virus called RSV can compromise a baby's lungs and breathing passages, resulting in hospitalization for infants under the age of one. This condition is especially dangerous for preemies whose lungs haven't been totally developed at birth.
Though RSV can be contracted year-round, it tends to spike in the winter before dropping in early spring.
Preemies with RSV can develop further complications, including chronic lung disease of prematurity (CLDP).