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What is the correct age of my premature baby?

Q: My baby was born almost three months premature last year. Her birth weight was 1.1 kg, and at the time of discharge from the hospital she was 1.3 kg. She was in NICU for almost one month, partly because we insisted. Currently, she weighs around 4.8 kg. I have the following queries: 1. When do we start giving her solid food? 2. What is her corrected age now and how do we calculate her age? 3. How do we see whether she is growing up as required? 4. Can we start giving her water and buffalo milk? 5. Recently, she started sucking her thumb, and tries to put everything into her mouth. Can we use pacifier for the same? 6. What other precautions need to be taken for a premature baby, especially during changing seasons? 7. She also has a cleft lip (only on her right side) and palate. When can this be corrected surgically?

A:Here are the answers to your questions:

  • She should be given solid food when she is six months corrected age.
  • From the information you have provided it would appear that your baby was born at 32 weeks gestation, which would mean that you need to subtract eight weeks from her actual chronological (according to date of birth) age. So at the age of 12 weeks, she would actually be only four weeks corrected age.
  • Give her water only after she starts having solid food. For milk, stick to formula until one year of age.
  • No pacifier; it is normal to put everything in mouth at this age.
  • Now that the baby is almost 5 kg, there are no special precautions that have to be taken.
  • Usually, cleft plate correction is done within the first year of life. Speak to a good plastic surgeon or paediatric surgeon. Ask your paediatrician for a recommendation.

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