A Week by Week Premature Baby Guide- 26 Weeks through 28 Weeks Gestation

A quick peek at 26 weeks through 28 weeks gestation

Baby Kennedy born at 26 weeks.

Twenty Six Weeks (26)

Approximately 80% of babies born in the 26th week of pregnancy will survive. Babies born at this gestation typically weigh less than 800 grams and are termed micro-preemies. At 26 weeks, the eyelids are now open, the eyebrows and eyelashes are fully formed, along with fingernails and toenails. The footprints and fingerprints have begun to develop, but their tiny feet will often be smooth to touch with very little creases.

Although the 26 weeker can hear your voice, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system, and they will startle at loud noises. The lungs have started to develop alveoli, the air sacs that allow gas exchange. (Breathing!)  Their lung walls have begun to secret surfactant; a surface activated fat on their lungs necessary for breathing however, the lungs of the baby born at 26 weeks remain underdeveloped, making them susceptible to injury and may be dependent on respiratory support in order to survive. A long and sometimes complicated NICU stay awaits the preemie born at 26 weeks gestation.

Twenty Seven Weeks (27)

Thanks to modern medicine, premature babies born at 27 weeks gestation have a 90 percent chance of survival. Babies born at this gestation typically weigh about 900 grams. At 27 weeks a baby is no longer considered a micro-preemie but is now termed a very premature infant.

At 27 weeks  the eyelids are now open, the eyebrows and eyelashes are fully formed, along with fingernails and toenails. The footprints and fingerprints have begun to develop but their tiny feet will often be smooth to touch with very little creases. Although the 27 weeker can hear your voice, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system and they will startle easily.

By 27 weeks, premature babies are also starting to develop more coordinated sleep-wake cycles and are starting to have periods of REM sleep. The lungs sacs (alveoli) are formed and are capable of breathing air as their vascular system can now handle oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange and their brain stem can now regulate rhythmic breathing, but they often still have underdeveloped lungs and may need extra help with respiratory support as they grow stronger. The 27 weeker has begun to regulate their basal body temperature but will need help keeping warm as they lack brown fat, and their brain is unable to regulate their tiny body’s temperature. The preemie born at 27 weeks will still require a lot of medical care and can be expected to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care for an extended period of time.

Twenty Eight Weeks (28)

Babies born at 28 weeks gestation have a 90-95percent chance of survival. Babies born at this gestation will typically weigh about 1kg. At 27 weeks, a baby is no longer considered a micro-preemie but is now termed a very premature infant.

At 28 weeks, the eyelids are now open, the eyebrows and eyelashes are fully formed. The eyes can now blink and respond to light and to dark. Their retinas are still developing (making them at risk for retinopathy of prematurity) but their eyes can form images. Although the 28 weeker can hear your voice, loud noises are often too much for their underdeveloped neurological system, and they will startle at loud noises. The bright lights may also be too much for them to handle, and they may tire easily. Keeping their space dimly lit will help them get the rest they need to learn and grow. By 28 weeks, premature babies are also starting to develop more coordinated sleep-wake cycles and are starting to have periods of REM sleep. The bones are fully formed at 28 weeks but are still very soft and vulnerable. The stomach and intestines are slowly maturing by 28 weeks. The lungs sacs (alveoli) are formed and are capable of breathing air as their vascular system can now handle oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, and their brain stem can now regulate rhythmic breathing. However, 28 weekers often have underdeveloped lungs and may need extra help with respiratory support as they grow stronger. The 28 weekers body fat has begun to increase and they may be able to regulate their basal body temperature. They will however, need help keeping warm as they still lack brown fat. Premature babies born at 28 weeks will still require long NICU stays with extensive medical care before they are discharged to home.

Click here to continue to part three 29-31 weeks gestation.

**The information provided in this series is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Keep in mind that this information is a general guideline. No two babies are alike, and no two NICU journeys are the same, and, for this reason, there may be variations in the timing, progression, and statistical information of each individual baby**

Sources:

Retrieved from http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1266&context=gs_rp

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Core measures for developmentally supportive care in neonatal intensive care units: theory, precedence and practice - Coughlin - 2009 - Journal of Advanced Nursing - Wiley Online Library. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.05052.x/full

Growing Home- Preemie Developmental Care in the NICU. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2011/09/growing-home-preemie-developmental-care-in-the-nicu/

The Importance of Sleep and the Premature Baby. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2012/11/the-importance-of-sleep-and-the-premature-baby/

Level of NICU Quality of Developmental Care and Neurobehavioral Performance in Very Preterm Infants. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/5/e1129.full

The Profile of a Preemie: The Senses and Your Premature Baby. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2013/02/the-profile-of-a-preemie/

Premature Birth Statistics | Statistic Brain. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/premature-birth-statistics/

Understanding Preemie Development: Meriter Health Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.meriter.com/services/newborn-intensive-care-unit/understanding-and-parenting-your-preemie/understanding-preemie-development

What can I do for my baby while in the NICU? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://preemies.about.com/od/Preemie-Parents/ss/Parenting-your-Preemie-in-the-Neonatal-Intensive-Care.htm

Your Preemie’s Special Language. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.peekabooicu.net/2014/05/your-preemies-special-language/

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