Displaying items by tag: preemie industry news
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:51

Prevention of Preemie Parent Distress

The birth of a preterm infant can cause significant psychological distress for parents and families. In particular it has been consistently reported that the birth and hospitalisation of an unwell baby is associated with high levels of distress and depressive symptoms in the mother of the infant. Most research in this area has focused on the mother of preterm infants but some research groups are now trying to evaluate the emotional affect preterm birth also has on fathers.

Research suggests that 10% of mothers of infants with very low birth weight (VLBW; infants born less than 1,500 g) report severe symptoms of psychological distress in the neonatal period which is five-fold the rate of term mothers, and almost one-third of mothers of VLBW infants have clinically meaningful levels of depression and anxiety.

A research team in the United States have recently evaluated a treatment intervention developed for reducing symptoms of posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety in parents of preterm babies.

There were 105 mothers of preterm infants who particpated in the study. The gestational age of preemies ranged from 25 to 34 weeks' gestational age and all were born more than 600grams. The 105 participants were randomly selected to be part of 2 groups; 1)intervention group - these mothers received 6 sessions of intervention which combined trauma-focused treatments, including psychoeducation, cognitive restructuring, progessive muscles relaxation, and development of their trauma narrative. It also included material which targeted infant redefinition - changing the mother's negative perceptions of her baby and the parenting experience; 2)control group - these mothers were described as an active comparison group who received an education session.

The research findings were positive for the intervention group - mothers greater reduction in trauma symptoms and depression, both groups reported less anxiety, and mothers who experienced higher NICU stress before the intervention benefited more from the intervention than mothers who reported low NICU stress.

The researchers concluded that, "This short, highly manualized intervention for mothers of preterm infants reduced symptoms of trauma and depression. The intervention is feasible, can be delivered with fidelity, and has high ratings of maternal satisfaction. Given that improvements in mothers’ distress may lead to improved infant outcomes, this intervention has the potential for a high public health impact.

Research such as this could be a great step in lessening the burden and stress for families of preterm infants who often have to deal with many and varied challenges.

Published in Industry News
Monday, 11 July 2011 19:05

Alcohol Risk for Preterm Birth

A recent study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has confirmed that heavy alcohol consumption during pregnancy increases the risk for low birth weight, preterm birth, and small size for gestational age.

 

Published in Industry News
Saturday, 15 October 2011 13:54

Stem Cells may Prevent Preterm Birth

A break through in stem cell cell research could help thousands of women at risk of having a preterm birth. Findings reported in the journal “Tissue Engineering” have discovered that they can manipulate the stem cells to make a material that is almost the same as a woman’s natural membrane that surrounds the fetus. This would act as a sort of “repair” patch to prevent preterm birth. This is very important because up to 40% of preterm births are caused by preterm premature rupture of the membrane (known as PPROM).

According to researchers at the Reading school of pharmacy a treatment could be available within 4 years. Their team have been able to grow the sac membrane that surrounds the fetus using stem cells from placentas obtained after birth. Reportedly, only one donation is required to produce thousands of patches to help preserve pregnancies at risk of preterm birth.

There repair patches are likely most beneficial for woman whose membranes rupture before 24 weeks gestation, where the preterm infant has less chance of survival due to the immaturity of their lungs. One of the most common causes of PPROM is infection, other risk factors are bleeding in the first half of the pregnancy, carrying twins, and when the fetus is surrounded by too much amniotic fluid.

Published in Industry News
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 20:06

Pacemaker to Stop Premature Birth

The latest in scientific research sees a "pacemaker" being developed to help prevent premature birth!

The "pacemaker" is composed of electrodes which deliver mild bursts of electricity to stop muscles in the womb contracting - it has recently just completed a clinical trial.

The rates of premature birth have been increasing putting more babies at risk for short and long term health difficulties so more and more research efforts are being put behind ways to help prevent preterm birth.

Published in Industry News
Friday, 07 October 2011 11:02

New Article: ROP surgery

Preemie Help have just released a new article called, Retinopathy of Prematurity; Surgeries and Procedures. It provides some basic information about the surgeries and procedures used to treat preterm infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). This is an important topic as the smallest and sickiest preterm infants are at the greatest risk for ROP, understanding a little about what's involved can help with feelings of being overwhelmed and confused.

There a several studies being undertaken at the moment to try and improve outcomes following ROP and ways to prevent it in the first instance. Preemie Help will keep up-to-date with this information and post any new findings.

Retinopathy of Prematurity; Surgeries and Procedures can be found under the section "About Preemies" > "In the Hospital" > under the heading "Preemie Surgeries and Procedures."

Published in Industry News
Monday, 07 July 2014 11:49

Preterm Birth Breakthrough: Infections

Estimates of preterm birth in Australia suggest one in 12 or approximately 8% of Australian babies is born preterm. The incidence worldwide is even higher, approximately 10%, meaning around 15 million babies are born preterm annually. The estimated cost is very high and Australia spends approximately $500 million per year on their care, whilst the United States spends more than $17 billion.

One of the causes of preterm birth is intrauterine infection or inflammation caused by infection. Experts in the field hypothesise that vaginal microorganisms break the cervical barrier, colonise the fetal membranes, and infect the amniotic cavity. The expectant mother's auto-immune response consistenting of a vigorous inflammatory reaction results in preterm birth.

An incredible breakthrough achieved at the University of Western Australia, King Edward Memorial Hospital, has described the ability of an antibiotic - solithromycin - to potentially cross the placenta and kill infections responsible for many preterm births. Professor Jeffrey Keelan estimated that up to 30% of preterm births could be prevented using this new antibiotic, solithromycin. Most of the benefits would be attributed to saving the very early prems.

The research behind this exciting breakthrough involved measurements in sheep and the crossover from sheep to human placentas is about 50% compared with only 2-4% for older antibiotics and it's 10 to 100 times stronger. Researchers report that the next step is to, confirm that in pregnant women, that the antibiotic crosses the placenta and destroys harmful bacteria. If research grants are successful clinical trials will take place between Western Australia and the United States.

This is a significant finding as currently used antibiotics are largely ineffective at destroying harmful bacteria or are unable to cross the placenta at high enough levels, thereby unable to prevent the preterm birth from occuring.

Published in Industry News
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 17:23

MRI, Extremely Preterm Birth & IQ

An Australia research group - Victorian Infant Collaborative Study - based in Melbourne investigates both short- and long-term outcomes associated with preterm birth. One of their studies has followed a large cohort, which includes participants from the 4 major children's hospitals in Victoria, 298 preterm survivors and 262 normal birth weight controls. These cohorts have had extensive evaluations of their growth and developments at 2, 5, and 8 years of age and were recently seen for a major follow-up including an extensive cognitive and visual assessment at age 8 years. In addition some 148 extremely preterm survivors and 132 term born controls received a magnetic resonance imaging scan of their brain in order to compare brain volumes from multiple brain tissues and structures as well as to explore the relationships of brain tissue volumes with IQ and basic educational skills.

IQ was assessed using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) and Educational skills were assessed using the Wide Range Achievement Test(WRAT-4).

This research represents the largest regional neuroimaging cohort of adolescents born in the 1990s, which is very important as this cohort represents a group that received "new" medical interventions such as surfactant therapy and antenatal corticosteroids which had greater success in improving survival rates of the smallest and most preterm infants. The long-term outcomes of these survivors have not been well documented until this unique study.

The researchers found that extremely preterm adolescents had smaller brain volumes, lower IQs and poorer educational performance than babies born at term. They also reported that brain volumes of multiple tissues and structures are related to IQ and educational outcomes and concluded that smaller total brain tissue volume is an important contributor to the cognitive and educational underperformance of adolescents born extremely preterm.

The authors of this study suggested that examining brain volume is one of many ways to understand the neurological changes associated with preterm birth and fruther investigations might be able to determine the correlation between other structural and functional information obtained from advanced MRI, which might also provide a more global understanding of changes related to extreme prematurity in adolescence

Published in Industry News
Sunday, 29 January 2012 15:58

Steroids Help Micro Preemies

A recent study has found that treating women at risk of preterm birth as early as 22 to 23 weeks gestation improved the survival of extremely preterm infants. Babies born this early are colloquially called micro preemies. Due to extreme prematurity, micro preemies have a reduced chance of survival and are at increased risk for a number of health complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome, patent ductus artiosus, retinopathy of prematurity, necrotizing enterocolitis, and intraventricular hemorrhage.

Women who are at risk of preterm delivery are treated with antenatal corticosteroids (steroids for short) to help the infant’s immature lungs develop. Various studies have provided evidence for the effectiveness of steroids for decreasing mortality and morbidity in preterm infants. Typically, women at high risk of preterm birth between 24 to 34 weeks gestation are treated with steroids, however the use of steroids in women between 22 to 26 weeks gestation has been low and there is wide international and regional variation in their use. A research team in Japan sough to evaluate the effectiveness of antenatal corticosteroids to improve neonatal outcomes for infants born at less than 24 weeks of gestation. This was an important study as steroid use at this early stage may have large ramifications for survival and morbidity in the most vulnerable and tiniest of preterm babies.

The study involved the analysis of 11,607 infants born at 22 to 33 weeks gestation between 2003 and 2007. They evaluated the gestational age effects of treating women threatened with preterm birth with steroids on several factors related to neonatal morbidity and mortality. The most important finding of this study was that treatment with antenatal corticosteroids improved the survival of extremely preterm infants, including the tiniest micro preemies; babies born 22 to 23 weeks gestation.

Other results from the study demonstrated that steroid treatment was effective in decreasing respiratory distress syndrome, brain injury (intraventricular hemorrhage), surfactant use, and duration of oxygen use in preterm infants born between 24 and 29 weeks of gestation but not for the smaller micro preemies.

Published in Industry News
Sunday, 01 June 2014 11:40

Stem Cells Could Help Preterm Infants

Premature babies have underdeveloped lungs and often have difficulty breathing by themselves. Respiratory distress syndrome and chronic lung disease are the most common breathing difficulties related to preterm birth.

Difficulty breathing due to underdeveloped lungs is often a common consequence of preterm birth that needs immediate attention. Respiratory distress syndrome, also called hyaline membrane disease (HMD), is the most common lung disorder in preterm infants. Preterm infants do not produce enough of a slippery, protective substance called surfactant, which helps the lungs inflate with air and keeps them from collapsing, when the infant tries to breathe in air, after birth, by themself. Preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome are treated with exogenous surfactant and has been shown to decrease neonatal mortality in very low birth weight and preterm infants. Where possible steroids are given to mother’s before a preterm delivery to help prevent problems associated with underdeveloped organs and lung immaturity.

Early difficulties with breathing and the need for ventilation can result in chronic lung disease (CLD), also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), which is common in babies born preterm. CLD is a disorder that results from inflammation, injury, and scarring of the airways and the alveoli.

New research which has focused on lung problems associated with preterm birth has reported some fascinating findings. Dr. Bernard Thébaud, who is a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and The Ottawa Hospital, published a paper in the medical journal Circulation reporting findings that showed that damaged lungs of preterm infants can be safely repaired using stem cells and regenerative medicine. This is the first study to demonstrate the use of vascular progenitor cells (stem cells that make blood vessels) for this purpose.

Research findings so far are based on research conducted on lab animals but the next phase of the study will begin working on opportunities for clinical trials.

These research findings have huge implications for the treatment of lung disease in preterm infants as well as the potential regeneration of other organs and other lung diseases in adult populations. This research is very important, not just for the short-term benefits but also the potential long-term benefits. For example, a lack of oxygen to other parts of the preemie infant’s body can result in other difficulties. For example, lack of oxygen can affect brain and eye development. Respiratory problems are the most common cause of death in preterm infants, although these problems have lessened over time, and they also have a large effect on other health outcomes. That is, they are related to high rates of cognitive (thinking and reasoning), motor skills, educational, and behavioural difficulties.

Research such as this could be a great step in lessening the burden and stress for families of preterm infants who often have to deal with many and varied many challenges.

Published in Industry News
Friday, 02 December 2011 10:27

Breastfeeding & Pain in Preemies

Not only is pain in preemie babies upsetting annd stressful for parents, if pain is not managed well it can have serious negative consequences, both short- and long-term. It can affect preemie babies' ongoing sensitivity to pain, stress arousal systems, and brain development. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) pain associated with procedures such as pricking for blood tests are managed with interventions such as skin-to-skin care, swaddling, nesting, pacifiers, nonnutritive sucking, and sweet tastes. Breastfeeding, a natural, simple alternative, offers simultaneously the pain-reducing components of familiar odor, maternal skin-to-skin contact, sucking, and the ingestion of breast milk. In babies who are born full term, it has been reported that breastfeeding during painful procedures can reduce the pain response by 80 to 90% without producing any negative side effects. This approach had not been evaluated in preemie babies, in part due to a concern preemie babies may associate breastfeeding with pain, which could affect their ability to feed effectively and gain weight, as well impact mother-baby bonding.

Recently, a randomized control trial conducted by investigators from the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital and The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, had their results of a study investiagting this very issue in PAIN (which is a scientific journal).

This research study looked at whether breastfeeding during the painful procedure would have a negative impact on the development of breastfeeding skills, and whether preemie babies who had more mature breastfeeding behaviors would have lower pain scores and heart rates during blood collection than less experienced feeders.

The results from the study showed that for the preemie group as a whole, breastfeeding did not reduce either behavioral or physiological pain during blood collection. But importantly, there were negative affects on breastfeeding skill development either. Preemie babies who were more advanced in their ability to feed did have significantly lower behavioral pain scores.

Published in Industry News
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AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 


Read More: Defining Preterm birth


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New Release - Preemie Development

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