FAQs About Babies Born at 30 Weeks

    Published 04 January 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Between 5 and 18 percent of babies born worldwide are delivered preterm. With the right medical care, premature babies can have high survival rates. But what about a baby born at 30 weeks? We have the answers to your frequently asked questions about babies born at 30 weeks and what to expect.

    What does a baby born at 30 weeks look like?

    Doctors and medical specialists consider a premature baby born at 30 weeks to be “very preterm.” This means that once they’re born, they’ll likely require immediate medical attention to help them breathe, eat, and reach developmental milestones. 

    A baby born at 30 weeks will look significantly smaller than babies born closer to their due date. Premature babies’ heads will appear disproportionately larger than the rest of their bodies, and they may weigh as little as 3 pounds. 

    At 30 weeks, preterm babies may also have:

    • Fuzzy bodies, as they may still be covered in fine hair (called lanugo)
    • Angular features because their fat stores haven’t developed yet
    • Slightly translucent or wrinkled skin, with veins visible under their skin

    What are the reasons for giving birth at 30 weeks?

    Premature births can happen to anyone. While there may not always be a specific cause for a baby being born at 30 weeks, there are some factors that can increase the risk of preterm birth. 

    Some possible reasons for giving birth at 30 weeks include: 

    • A genetic predisposition to preterm birth
    • Previously giving birth to a preterm baby or having miscarriages or abortions
    • Getting pregnant again less than six months after giving birth
    • Issues with your reproductive organs
    • Having diabetes or high blood pressure
    • Lifestyle factors such as smoking or drug use 
    • Experiencing a highly stressful event while pregnant

    Other possible risk factors for preterm birth include experiencing physical injury or trauma, getting pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, and being over or underweight before getting pregnant. 

    Speak with your doctor if you have any of these known risk factors. Remember that even if you don’t have these risk factors, preterm labor and delivery is still possible, so monitor your pregnancy symptoms and report any abnormal changes to your doctor. 

    What are the possible complications?

    Having a premature baby can come with a higher risk of complications compared to full-term babies. Some preterm health issues resolve over time, while others can have long-term effects. 

    Your baby’s specific needs or issues will determine the type of medical treatment or intervention they may require. 

    Some more immediate health complications that a baby born at 30 weeks of gestation might experience include:

    • Heart issues such as an abnormal opening between the aorta and pulmonary artery, which can cause your baby to develop a heart murmur or heart failure
    • Breathing issues or respiratory distress caused by underdeveloped lungs. Your baby may have apnea (long pauses in their breathing) or develop a disorder called bronchopulmonary dysplasia. 
    • Brain hemorrhage, which can be mild and have little to no immediate impact. More severe bleeding can cause permanent brain injury. 
    • Low core body temperature, which can lead to hypothermia 
    • Gastrointestinal issues caused by underdeveloped digestive tracts
    • Blood issues including anemia (caused by low red blood cell count) or jaundice, which causes yellowing of the skin and eyes
    • Weakened immune systems, which can increase their risk of developing rapidly spreading infections
    • Sudden infant death syndrome 

    If you’re wondering how long you and the baby might stay in the hospital, the answer depends on the severity of any health issues. 

    Even if a premature baby receives medical care, there is still a risk that they may experience long-term complications. These can include: 

    • Disorders of movements, muscle tone, and posture, such as cerebral palsy
    • Learning disabilities or developmental delays
    • Issues with their vision, hearing, or dental development
    • Chronic health challenges like asthma
    • Behavioral or psychological challenges

    Remember that not all babies born at 30 weeks will experience serious or long-term health complications. Once your baby is born, their medical team will diligently monitor their health and do everything they can to treat your baby.

    What is the survival rate?

    Despite the possible health complications, the survival rate for babies born at 30 weeks is quite high. In areas that can quickly provide high-quality health care to newborns, the survival rate for babies born at 30 weeks is approximately 90–95 percent. 

    How can a baby born at 30 weeks be managed?

    A baby born at 30 weeks will typically spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit until they’re more fully developed. 

    The level of care that your newborn needs will determine the kind of treatments they need to receive. These can include: 

    • Placing them in an incubator to keep them warm until they can better regulate their core body temperature
    • Monitoring their vital signs like heart rate or blood pressure
    • Feeding them through a tube if their swallowing and sucking reflexes haven’t fully developed
    • Giving them fluids intravenously to make sure their levels stay on target
    • Exposing them to bilirubin lights to treat jaundice
    • Giving them medication to help regulate bodily functions or treat infections
    • Admitting them for surgery to treat any serious defects or complications

    These are just some of the possible ways in which your baby’s care team will help provide for their needs. 

    Once your baby reaches certain milestones, like gaining weight and being able to breathe and eat on their own, they’ll be ready to leave the hospital. Doctors and nurses will make sure you have everything you need to confidently care for your newborn from the comfort of your own home. 

    A final note about babies born at 30 weeks

    Delivering a baby at 30 weeks can be an overwhelming experience. But with the right health care support in place, your baby can survive and thrive. You and your doctor will continue to monitor your baby’s health as they develop to identify if there are any related long-term complications. 

    History of updates

    Current version (04 January 2020)

    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant

    Published (04 January 2020)

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