Q&A: Are preemies at risk for excessive bleeding?
I've heard that premature babies are bleeders. Is this true? I have a grandson who was born 7 weeks early and I am worried.
When considering bleeding risks in newborns, including those born prematurely, two different conditions come to mind. The first involves the potential for bleeding in the fluid-filed parts (ventricles) of the brain, referred to as intraventricular hemorrhage—or IVH for short. This increased risk of bleeding is thought to occur because the blood vessels in the brains of premature babies are more fragile and less fully developed. This type of bleeding usually occurs within the first few days after birth, and rarely occurs after the first month. While it is known to be a complication of prematurity, IVH is more likely to occur the smaller and more significantly premature an infant is—typically occurring in babies born at less than 32 weeks.
The other potential cause for bleeding in the newborn period that comes to mind is that caused by Vitamin K deficiency (formerly referred to as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn). Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting . A lack of Vitamin K in newborns is not, however, specifically related to prematurity. Fortunately, giving newborns vitamin K at birth prevents this sort of bleeding, and is therefore routinely given in the US.