A premature infant's health at birth is influenced by many things, including:
- Gestational age at birth.
- Weight at birth.
- Maternal illness and medical treatment during pregnancy.
- Congenital birth defects.
Most infants born at 36 and 37 weeks' gestation are mature enough to be discharged from the hospital with the mother. But many premature infants need care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Hospital care will be needed for:
- Underdeveloped lungs.
- Inability to breathe continuously (apnea of prematurity).
- Inability to maintain body heat.
- Inability to feed orally.