I have heard that the first year with a preemie is often spent in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms. I simply can’t imagine what some preemie parents have to go through. I know I really should feel blessed that our baby stayed in my tummy as long as she did, I don’t even want to think about the what-ifs. She is not that premature after all but all I can think about right now is that I’m more than over my baby hurting, and the smells and sounds of hospitals.
Turns out our girl has another UTI but this time it’s even more serious, it has traveled up to her kidneys like last time but this time they actually worry if her kidneys are still immature and more susceptible to infections. Kidneys that aren’t fully developed do not function properly and repeated infections are common and can lead to serious conditions- conditions I don’t even want to think about.
Of course I worry about the PPROM and underdeveloped kidney link and as my baby finally drifts off to sleep in my arms, I pay a visit to Mr. (Or is it Mrs. ?) Google.
An infant’s kidneys are technically structurally developed by 36 weeks gestation but a newborn’s kidneys are still immature in their functioning. Kidneys mature rapidly during the first weeks after birth both in full term and preterm babies. This is a time when, especially in preemies, things can and do go wrong. Electrolyte imbalance, dehydration and, over hydration are considered serious risks in infants, especially if “younger” than 37 weeks. While baby is in the tummy, baby’s waste are removed by the placenta and then eliminated by mother’s kidneys. After birth, the infant’s kidneys must take on these tasks.
Kidney functions mature with weeks of gestation but are not even, as mentioned before, structurally developed fully until week 36. Premature babies are therefor born with underdeveloped kidneys and they will take a while to mature. Infants born early have fewer of the building blocks that make up our kidneys, compared to full term babies.
A research study from Monash University published in “Science Daily” by Professor Black states that “An average person has around 800,000 to 1.5 million nephrons” and “babies born preterm have less nephrons, in the range of 400,000 — 600,000. This is because nephron development occurs in the last few weeks of pregnancy, so babies born preterm have not had time to complete the developmental process.” Professor Black continues the article by stating, “Even moderate preterm babies, those born within four weeks of full gestation, who were previously considered to have achieved ‘normal’ development, were found to have far fewer nephrons and underdeveloped kidneys.” Professor Black states that these findings are of critical importance, “The more nephrons you have the more ‘solid’ a structure your kidneys will have. When we look at kidneys that have fewer nephrons, abnormalities are present, which indicates that preterm babies could be much more susceptible to renal disease and possible kidney failure later in life”.
Well, that sounds fun doesn’t it? All I want to do is protect my baby (again, I just wish I could take her pain) but again what does google even know? (HE must most certainly be wrong about MY baby-he has been wrong about so many things). Stop your obsessive googling you might suggest! I just can’t! I still download the WebMD apt- knowledge is power after all. You just have to weed through the BS and add some logic, consider the source, your own unique situation and sprinkle on a whole lot of common sense.
They need to keep our baby girl overnight for observation and to make sure her vitals improve. We also already get appointments to check her kidneys both via ultrasound and via catheter (great, baby loves that). This will be a long night…and week…