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Vulnerable Population Paper - Premature Infants

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Essay title: Vulnerable Population Paper - Premature Infants

Vulnerable Population Paper – Premature Infants

University of Phoenix

Vulnerable Population Paper – Premature Infants

The word “vulnerability” stems from the Latin vulnerare, which means, “to wound”. (Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary, 1995) In a clinical setting, the term vulnerable can be applied to many different kinds of patients. The purpose of this paper is to address a vulnerable population within a community. The vulnerable population this author chose to focus on will be that of premature infants because premature infants are at risk for a number of reasons that include: being unprotected, having immature age, being undefended, and having increased sensitivity.

Description

By definition, premature infants are infants who are born before 37 weeks of gestational age. Premature infants usually weigh less than 2,500 grams (5 lb, 8 oz) and constitute for about 10 percent of all births, also infant mortality rises from five times normal at 37 weeks of gestational age to 45 times normal at 32 weeks of gestational age. (Trachtenbarg, Golemon, 1998) Premature infants are vulnerable to many health problems because their organs did not have adequate time to develop in utero prior to their birth. Some early problem for these infants include: inability to breathe without assistance due to underdeveloped lungs, inability to maintain body temperature, feeding problems due to a immature digestive system, anemia, intracranial hemorrhage, and jaundice.

Signficance of Problem / Statistical Information

“One of the Healthy People 2010 goals is to reduce the preterm birth rate by 2010 to 7.6% from the 11.6% preterm birth rate in 1998.” (Gardner, 2007) Some statistics relating to preterm infants are as follows: 71% of premature infants are born between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation. These births are referred to as late preterm births. Almost 13% of premature infants are born between 32 and 34 weeks of gestation, while around 10% of births occur between 28 and 32 weeks, leaving approximately 6% being less that 28 weeks gestation.

With advances in medicine and medical technology, the viability of an infant born between 24 and 28 weeks is much higher than in days past. Babies born in these very early weeks of gestation are referred to as micro-preemies and if the babies survive the first hours, days, months of life, they are susceptible to a host of health problems that will follow them through life.

It is important to note some possible causes of why a baby would be born prematurely. Most women anticipate a normal, healthy pregnancy lasting approximately nine months (40 weeks). Some reasons a woman might go into premature labor include having a multiple pregnancy, developing preeclampsia, medcial history including diabetes, kidney problems, or heart disease. A woman who does not seek

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