Thursday, July 21, 2011

What is a micropreemie?

I've been trying to come up with a new special interest item for Mommy to a Princess.  I finally decided that I am going to feature an issue that is so dear to my heart on Thursday.  Every Thursday is going to be Princess Preemie Primer Thursday.  I will write about premature infants (mine included!).  I plan to include informative pieces, personal stories (mine and others), and anything I can think of in regards to premature babies and their supporting family and friends.  If you are a parent of a preemie and would like to be featured, please email me at samantha{dot}pridgen{at}live{dot}com.
I hope you will all join me on Thursdays!
Question: What Is a Micro Preemie?
Answer: A micro preemie is a baby born weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces (800 grams) or before 26 weeks gestation. Because they are born months before their due dates, micro preemies face long NICU stays. Although many micro preemies grow up with no long-term effects of prematurity, others face severe health problems throughout life.

When I found out I was pregnant, I don't think I had ever heard the term "micropreemie."  I was completely in the dark.  Needless to say, September 4, 2009, opened my eyes wide open to the term and all the complications it can bring. 

Born at 29 weeks, 1 day (11 weeks early), Roxy weighed in at 1 pound, 9 ounces.  She was definitely micro.  Even her voice was teeny tiny.  Seeing her for the first time was a shock.  Even during our ultrasound the day before her birth, she was estimated to be 2 pounds, 10 ounces. 

Her hands were barely as big as the first joint on my pointer finger.  Her feet were just a bit longer.  Her legs were about as big as a jumbo marker.  Her preemie diaper swallowed her up.  Her nails and belly button were so tiny and miniscule.  Her first 2 Apgar tests, she only scored a 2. 

Along with the shock of how small she was, we started learning tons of information about micropreemies, prematurity and the NICU. 

Micropreemies tend to have health problems.  Apnea and bradycardia are very common issues and are often referred to as "A"s and "B"s in the NICU.  Apnea is when a preemie fails to take a breath for 20 seconds or more.  Bradycardia is an abnormal slowing of the heartbeat.  Either of these will send a preemie's monitor beeping like crazy.  Anemia.  Jaundice.  There is ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) which affects the eyes.  The blood vessels in the eyes don't grow correctly and it causes vision loss and blindness.  There are IVH (intraventricular hemorhages) which are brain bleeds.  These are categorized on a scale from 1 to 4 (4 is the worst).  Brain bleeds can cause multiple issues from minor to severe including cerebral palsy and hearing loss.  Necrotizing entercolitis affects the intestines and can be fatal. 

While in the NICU, Roxy had a Grade 1 IVH, a staph infection, was treated for NEC even though tests later showed negative results, and was tested for septic infections at least twice more after the staph infection.  She was jaundice at first and had several blood transfusions because she was anemic. 

For more information on these issues, go here

Micropreemies also continue to have health problems as they get older.  We have been warned that Roxy may be more susceptible to diabetes and high blood pressure.  Preemies also face potential learning disorders, respiratory problems, digestive problems, and hearing and vision problems.  You can find out more here

Stay tuned on Thursdays for more from the world of premature babies and the NICU.


  1. Thanks for sharing this information. T was a preemie (32 weeks) and I remember seeing the micropreemies in the NICU. They made my 4 lb baby look so huge. It's so interesting to read some of the similarities in our situations, and the differences. T had a Grade 3 IVF and was in the NICU for 78 days. I'm so glad Roxy is doing so well (& that we share a name!).

  2. I had no idea there was a difference, but it makes sense now. Thanks and I look forward to reading more stories!


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