8.2.2  Classification on gestational age

A premature baby is a baby born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Based on the gestational age, preterm babies are further classified as follows:

Preterm baby: Babies born between the gestational ages of 32-36 weeks of gestation, as calculated from the mother’s last normal menstrual period (LNMP date). These babies can usually be managed safely at home with some extra care and support, which you will learn later in this study session.

Very preterm baby: Babies born between the gestational ages of 28-31 weeks as calculated from the LNMP date. Like very low birth weight babies and for the same reasons, they have problems in feeding and maintaining their body temperature. If possible, they should be referred urgently for specialist care at a hospital.

Table 8.1 summarises the classifications we have just described, and the actions you should take.

Table 8.1  Classification of newborn babies according to birth weight and gestational age.

Birth weight and gestational ageClassificationAction
Weight less than 1,500 gmVery low birth weightRefer URGENTLY to a hospital, making sure to keep the baby warm on the journey
Gestational age less than 32 weeksVery pretermKeep the newborn baby warm and refer it soon.
Weight 1,500 to 2,500 gmLow birth weightIf there is no other problem:counsel on optimal breast feeding, prevention of infection and keeping the baby warm
Gestational age 32-36 weeksPretermAs above for low birth weight babies
Weight equal to or above 2,500 gm; gestational age equal to or above 37 weeksNormal weight and full termAs above for low birth weight and preterm babies

8.2.1  Classification on birth weight

8.3  Counselling on how to feed preterm and low birth weight babies