2.5.1  Characteristics of premature babies

Premature babies have a number of characteristics depending on their gestational age:

  • Skin: may be reddened. The skin may be thin so blood vessels are easily seen.
  • Lanugo: there is a lot of fine hair all over the baby’s body.
  • Limbs: the limbs are thin and may be poorly flexed or floppy due to poor muscle tone.
  • Head size: appears large in proportion to the body. The fontanelles (open spaces where skull bones join) are smooth and flat.
  • Chest: no breast tissue before 34 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Sucking ability: weak or absent.
  • Genitals: in boys the testes may not be descended and the scrotum may be small; in girls the clitoris and labia minora may be large.
  • Soles of feet: creases are located only in the anterior (front) of the sole, not all over, as in the term baby.

2.5  Assess, classify and manage low birth weight babies

2.5.2  Assess birth weight and gestational age