Research on late preterm infants highlighted in book by Professor Shahirose Premji

Shahirose Premji, director and professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health at York University, has published the edited book Late Preterm Infants. A Guide for Nurses, Midwives, Clinicians and Allied Health Professionals that is now available in ebook format, with the hard copy to be published soon.

Shahirose Premji (image: Sofie Kirk)

Around the world, one in 10 babies (i.e. 15 million) are born three weeks before their estimated arrival date or premature (i.e. before 37 weeks gestational age). Roughly 70 to 74 per cent of these babies will be late preterm infants, being delivered four to six weeks earlier than their estimated due date. Although late preterm infants appear mature, they and their families can experience a myriad of issues, including feeding difficulties, parent-infant relationship problems and readmission for jaundice. This book reflects on these issues and provides the best available evidence to inform care.

“Late preterm infants are not babies born a little early, they are immature babies who have special needs,” said Premji. “Their parents require extra support to manage their baby’s special needs.”

Some of the topics explored in the book include:

  • Late preterm infants show signs of hypoglycemia at a rate three times higher than term newborns; they have limited glycogen stores and immature liver function.
  • The preterm birth impairs the mother’s opinion of her ability to “mother” her newborn, and the uncertainty of the early days adds to emotional distress of women with late preterm infants.
  • Two-sided vocalizations or conversations during paternal-infant (father-infant) interactions promote communication and language development later in life.
  • Duration of skin-to-skin with fathers during the first day after birth, rather than the mother, was associated with exclusive breastfeeding at discharge.

The book would be of value to anyone who is a parent or a potential parent, caregiver or has a profession that works with babies, including nurses, midwives, physicians, clinicians and allied health-care providers.