Ask Dr. Marla: Premature Baby Behaviour

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My child was born 10 weeks premature and is now 11 weeks old. When he’s awake, he often wriggles forcefully and stretches making grunting noises. Is it a cause for concern?


I assume given the prematurity, that your child was in a neonatal ICU and after discharge, at home there is ongoing care with a developmental pediatric clinic and your own doctor. As always, a specific answer related to your child must be taken up with your own physician.
Movements first begin to take place as early as seven weeks in the fetus. These movements become more elaborate as early as nine to 10 weeks of gestational age in utero and we can see more general movements on ultrasound.
The assessment of these general movements and specific movements that you describe are a very important part of your baby’s neurological examination. Also important in an exam are reflexes and reactions as well as the spontaneous general movements. It is important to have a complete assessment that allows your doctor to look at the entire baby. To that end there is a huge benefit in you videotaping these movements so that your doctor can look at them. It is the best way to assess whether or not the stretching and grunting you describe are normal or abnormal.
Your doctor may want to order an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure your baby’s brain’s electric activity, or other kind of brain scan. Ongoing care is important as your baby grows.

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