Each year Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) care for thousands of babies born prematurely, providing these tiny patients and their families with high-quality specialised care.
“Last year, one in every 10 babies born at Hamad was premature. Between January 2018 and September 2019, our NICU’s cared for over 4,200 babies born prematurely. Babies who are born prematurely can have a rough start due to the immaturity of their organs and still-developing brain. This predisposes these babies to a lot of risks and complications in their physical health as well as possible adverse long-term effects or delays in their growth and development. The WWRC’s NICU provides preterm babies with the best possible care, with care plans tailored to the individual needs of each baby,” explained Dr Hilal al-Rifai, Medical Director, Womens Wellness and Research Centre (WWRC).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), preterm babies are defined as babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These babies are classified as extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (28 to 32 weeks), and moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).
“Preterm babies are very fragile and more prone to birth complications. Complications arising from premature birth require careful management and we provide round-the-clock specialised care that includes placing them in incubators, monitoring their feeding, which can include the use of a feeding tube, replenishing their fluids, and providing treatment for conditions like jaundice,” said Dr al-Rifai.
Dr al-Rifai added that HMC works with Sidra Medicine in the care of preterm babies who require surgical intervention to treat conditions associated with prematurity. He said the amount of time a baby spends in the NICU will vary and noted that babies have to meet several milestones before they are discharged. He noted that staff at the NICU work with parents prior to discharge to ensure they are comfortable managing any extra care that their baby requires.
“A baby is ready to go home once he or she can breathe without support, can maintain a stable body temperature, can breastfeed or bottle-feed, is gaining weight steadily, and is free of infection,” said Dr al-Rifai.
In recognition of World Prematurity Day, HMC held a number of events to raise awareness of the potentially devastating effects of premature birth and the high quality of care provided by HMC’s NICU’s. Events included sessions with parents and babies who had been cared for at the NICU, or who are currently being cared for at the NICU, discussing their experiences. The role of healthcare teams in supporting the development of preterm babies, which includes helping families to manage the responsibilities of caring for these tiny babies, was highlighted during the events.
World Prematurity Day is observed on 17 November each year to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preterm babies and their families worldwide. Approximately 15mn babies are born preterm each year. (QNA)
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