Premature birth: A standard human pregnancy lasts approximately 40 weeks, though a gestation period of 42 weeks is not uncommon. If an infant is born at less than 37 weeks, it is a premature birth. Premature infants can have immature lungs and heart, along with other problems that require specialized care. This care can include oxygen, medication, and increased frequency in feeding, weighing, and heart monitoring. Some premature babies are tube fed in order to conserve calories lost when nursing. Most premature infants go home once they weigh over 5 pounds.
Low birth weight: Babies that are not premature but weigh less than 5 pounds are considered low birth weight infants. These infants require care that is similar to a premature baby since they have many of the same problems.
Birth Defect: Birth Defect is a very generic term used for various conditions or injuries that have occurred at or before birth. A birth defect may be genetically inherited, or it can be caused during pregnancy from injury or disease. These conditions have a wide range of possibilities including heart conditions, cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, missing or malformed extremities, blindness, and many others.
Bacterial or viral infection: Healthcare providers usually request that newborns less than 6 weeks old be kept out of the mainstream public. This decreases the chance of the infant picking up a bacterial or viral infection. The baby needs some time for the immune system to mature, and many cold and flu medications cannot be given to those under 2 years old.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Crib death, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) happens when a baby stops breathing while they are asleep. Researchers have not been able to determine the cause of this condition, nor how to prevent it. A baby who sleeps on his back has a lower risk of SIDS. Babies who are premature or those who suffered low birth weight are at a higher risk for crib death. Apnea monitors are used for high-risk infants that will alert parents if the baby stops breathing. Cigarette smoke is also believed to put infants at risk. No one should ever smoke around infants and children.