Low birth weight babies are babies born with measured weights below five pounds and eight ounces. The word preterm is analogous to premature babies who are born before the completing the required thirty-seven weeks for full-term pregnancy. Low birth weight babies are likely to acquire serious illnesses. They are at higher risks for serious disabilities and illnesses that sometimes lead to mortality. According to a research conducted, infants who survive their preterm birth mostly suffer from serious diseases and disabilities such as mental retardation, learning disabilities, loss of vision and hearing abilities, etc.
Other serious disabilities include respiratory system related diseases, bacterial infections, hypoglycemia, jaundice, etc. With this in mind, major concerns regarding the health and development of preterm, low birth weight babies are death and the acquisition of serious diseases and disabilities for survivors. Therefore, prevention of preterm, low birth weight babies is the primary concern of parents and medical professionals.
If prevention does not address fully the situation, medical professionals and parents work together to ensure that preterm, low birth weight babies are given the right nutrition and care to avoid acquisition of serious diseases and illnesses. This may be achieved by consulting medical professionals on proper ways to care for preterm, low birth weight babies. (DEECD, 2006) Aside from the role of support groups, counseling and information services are also beneficial to parents of preterm, low birth weight babies.
It is the role of medical professionals to inform parents on how they should care for their babies. Information should also include what parents should expect from babies and what actions should they take in order to address these concerns. For instance, parents should be informed of symptoms of particular diseases and disabilities that are expected of preterm, low birth weight babies. If parents detect there is something wrong with their baby, they should be advised to contact medical professionals as soon as possible.
Aside from health care information, counseling may also help parents to cope up and accomplish the demanding task of caring for preterm and low birth babies. Counseling includes informing them of what they should expect, such as unexpected death or symptoms of serious illnesses and diseases. Part of the counseling process is informing parents in understandin the position of preterm, low birth weight babies. Moreover, health care professionals should show that they are always available for consultation in case parents might need their assistance and recommendations.
Educational activities should be designed to suit the needs and concerns of preterm, low birth weight babies. It should also suit their strengths and capabilities, but at the same time nurture growth and development. Physical exercise that enhances brain development should be employed including letting the infant follow objects from left to right (test sight), checking hearing by testing if the infant follows sounds, showing pictures of different colors, hanging mobiles for the child to observe, etc.
These not only test their abilities, but are also educational because it stimulates psychomotor and cognitive development. Monitoring should be closely and frequently done in order to determine the baby’s needs and identify what action to take to address it. (Deloian, 2008) Assessment or evaluation tools should be utilized in order to determine the developmental rate of infants and ensure that educational activities being provided for them suit their stage of development.
Examples of these tests include the Abbreviated Denver Developmental Screening Test which tests all levels of development of the child, or the Revised Parent Developmental Questionnaire which draws answers from parents in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their children. (Carter, 2001) Basically, tests and measurements are conducted in order to determine if infants are following the normal developmental stages. If not, then further tests will determine what the baby’s development delays are and recommend activities that are suited for his stage in development.