Malnutrition in premature babies: A mum shares her preemie's story

Malnutrition in premature babies: A mum shares how her preemie continues to fight with a birth defect, malnutrition and unexplained seizures.

Filipino mum Apple Potante knew her premature newborn would need to be cared for closely.

She knew that malnutrition in premature newborns is a real possibility, but she wasn't expecting that a birth defect and sudden seizures would make the postpartum period even more difficult.

In an interview with theAsianparent, the mum of three recalls realising something was wrong shortly after giving birth.

Her baby started having seizures after feeding

"When I gave birth to her, she was okay. After a few minutes, I gave her milk through a bottle, she started to gag and her skin became dark."

"She was struggling to breathe, but we ignored it because after a few minutes, she seemed to be okay again. After a few hours, I gave her milk again. I could not breastfeed after undergoing a Cesarean so I gave her formula first."

Doctors then found out that baby Jovelle had a birth defect known as Tracheoesophageal fistula.

After she was given milk again, her baby Jovelle suddenly experienced a seizure, which prompted the nurse on duty to bring the preemie to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

At the NICU, doctors found that baby Jovelle had a birth defect known as a tracheoesophageal fistula.

During the first few months in utero, the long hollow, digestive tube known as the esophagus develops. It is responsible for linking the mouth to the stomach.

When the esophagus does not develop normally, it results in a birth defect known as esophageal atresia. Instead of one tube, those with esophageal atresia develop two separate tubes, which need to be sealed through surgery.

Those with this condition also commonly develop tracheoesophageal fistula, which is a defect that results in an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea. This is considered a birth defect, as the esophagus and trachea should not be connected in any way.

Baby Jovelle is now getting more hydration and nourishment through an intravenous tube

Aside from this birth defect, the inability to suck, breathe, and swallow properly has made it even more difficult for baby Jovelle to breastfeed normally, which could greatly help her get proper nourishment and achieve healthy weight gain.

NICU doctors have placed an IV to make sure Apple's baby is hydrated and nourished.

In general, premature babies encounter feeding issues because they struggle to feed by mouth. This may be due to breathing problems, poor oxygenation, poor circulation, or a blood infection.

They also have difficulty maintaining their body's water balance. Hence, they can either be dehydrated or over-hydrated.

Baby Jovelle's weight has improved but they have yet to find out the exact cause of seizures

Apple, who is currently still confined at the hospital a month after her C-section, laments that she has been too weak to visit her baby, who is currently in need of a blood transfusion, on top of needing the right amount of nourishment to get her weight up.

Though her weight has improved, Apple's little one has still been getting a fever and having seizures on and off.  She tells us that she is currently awaiting the results of an EEG (electroencephalogram) to find out whether these seizures are indicative of a problem concerning the nervous system.

In closing, the mum offered some words of advice for parents going through a similar situation.

"To parents who are going through the same thing, stay strong for your kids. Let's pray and trust in the Lord and He will heal our sick children."

*lead image for representation purposes only (source: dreamstime)

**This article was first published on theAsianparent Philippines

Also READ: Mum shares her struggles after delivering baby at 25 weeks

sources: Stanford Children's Health, University of California San Francisco Pediatric Surgery, MedLine Plus