Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
NYU Langone Medical Center in Lower Manhattan, out of power from both main sources and backup generators and facing 10-12 feet of water in the wake of the superstorm Sandy, evacuated all patients yesterday and this morning, including its newborns and ill babies. Hospital staff carried the young patients down 9 flights of stairs to evacuate them safely from the building, as CNN.com reports:
The evacuation was moving more slowly than expected, according to hospital spokeswoman Lisa Grenier. About 40 patients remained to be evacuated at 9 a.m. Tuesday, she said. Brotman said earlier that he anticipated the evacuation would last until around 6:30 a.m.
The dawn of a new day, however, brought some help. “At least there’s daylight coming in through the windows,” Grenier said.
Four of the newborns were on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby’s lungs.
“This is a labor-intensive, extremely difficult process,” Brotman said.
Image: Emergency stairs, via Shutterstock
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
A global study of premature births has found that the U.S. ranks similarly to developing countries when it comes to women who give birth to premature babies. According to The New York Times, American hospitals do very well at protecting the health of both the mothers and babies, but could do far better in managing risk factors for preterm labor.
The Times reports on the possible causes for the findings:
That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women older than 35 who are giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization, the authors said. Twins and triplets are often deliberately delivered early by Caesarean section to avoid the unpredictable risks of vaginally delivering multiple full-term babies.
Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies, when problems like high blood pressure or genital infections can be headed off.
Image: Planet Earth, via Shutterstock.
Friday, April 13th, 2012
The story of a baby in Argentina who was discovered to be alive after being taken to the hospital morgue and given up for dead has the world holding its breath as the girl, born at only 26 weeks gestational age, struggles with health complications typical of babies who are born severely premature.
USA Today reports:
Tiny Luz Milagros, or “Miracle Light,” is suffering from sepsis and convulsions along with signs of neurological damage, said Dr. Diana Vesco, neonatology chief at the Perrando hospital in Resistencia in northern Chaco province. She said the baby is on a ventilator and being treated with antibiotics.
Her mother, Analia Bouter, said she got a supportive call from President Cristina Fernandez on Wednesday asking to see the baby once she’s out of intensive care.
That could be a while.
Luz Milagros faces a “risk of death commonly associated with her weight and gestational age at birth,” said Vesco.
The case became public Tuesday when Chaco’s deputy health minister, Rafael Sabatinelli, announced that five medical professionals had been suspended pending an official investigation of what happened.
Friday, March 16th, 2012
An innovative research study is under way at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to test whether the sounds of a mother’s heartbeat and voice can help premature infants better grow and thrive while they remain in hospital care. The study, which was recently published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, involved a professional recording studio at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to allow neuroscientist Amir Lahav–who himself became the parent of premature twins five years ago–to measure whether the soothing sounds of their mothers can help premature babies develop.
Time magazine has a full report:
“The majority of babies born before 32 weeks’ gestation, even without a diagnosed brain injury, are likely to have learning, cognitive, social or sensory problems down the road,” says Lahav, who is now a pediatric researcher specializing in neonatal medicine and director of the Neonatal Research Lab at Brigham and Women’s. “That tells us that something we do is still not perfect.”
Could the lack of exposure to maternal sounds at a critical time period account at least in part for subsequent problems with language, attention deficit, learning disabilities, even autism? Lahav doesn’t think it’s far-fetched. “If a baby is in an isolated environment with only the sounds of machines and noise, it could possibly translate into problems with social behavior,” he says.
In the small study, Lahav and colleagues played recordings of moms who spoke, read or sang, to a group of 14 babies born between 26 to 32 weeks, for 45 minutes, four times a day. They found a significant reduction in problems such as apnea, in which breathing stops occasionally for more than 20 seconds, and bradycardia, in which the heart beat slows down significantly, when babies listened to their personalized MSS, or maternal sound stimulation. Think of it like iTunes for babies.
All babies had fewer adverse episodes when exposed to maternal sounds, but the measurement was only statistically significant in babies 33 weeks or older, according to the study. That might be because by 32 weeks, the auditory brain system is more developed, and the babies are able to process the sounds better. In general, Lahav hypothesizes, babies who hear their mothers may have reduced cortisol levels, which correlate with less stress.
Image: Recording studio, via Shutterstock.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
New password-protected webcams are coming online at hospitals across the country, with the goal of allowing parents to keep a constant, loving eye on their NICU-bound premature babies. CNN.com reports on how the new technology is helping families bond during a time that’s marked by stress, worry, and sometimes limited NICU visiting policies:
St. Jude Medical Center [in Fullerton, California] is one of the first hospitals in the country to implement a webcam system called NICVIEW, which gives parents a virtual window to their newborns. Most of the babies in St. Jude’s neonatal intensive care unit, which has 14 incubators, are born prematurely and are released within four or five days. Some, however, stay for months.
The password-protected webcam system is also being used at a handful of hospitals across the country, including UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Deaconess Women’s Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana. Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in Riverside, California, expects to introduce the system in the next few weeks.
Numerous other facilities are exploring the idea or looking for funding. Cameras run about $1,000 each in addition to an annual service fee that covers technical support and other costs.
Those who have used the system said it is well worth the investment.
“The family feels that they are really connected to their infant, which is important for bonding. In the past, the bonding process had to be instituted every few days,” said Dr. David Hicks, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jude Medical Center. “The family dynamics are improved.”
Image: Camera, via Shutterstock.