Displaying items by tag: preterm birth
Sunday, 21 April 2013 12:50

Live Music Benefits Preemies

A large study in the US as found that live music can be beneficial to preterm babies.

The study was lead by Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and involved 11 hospitals. Music therapists helped parents of preemies change their favorite tunes into lullabies.

The researchers have reported that live music, played or sung, helped to slow preterm infants' heartbeats, calm their breathing, improve sucking behavior, which are important for feeding, aid sleep, and promote states of quiet alertness. These factors are important as reducing stress and stabilizing vital signs allows preterm infants to dedicate more energy to growing and developing.

One reason which might explain how live music helps preemies is that music is organised, purposeful sound amid the unpredictable, overstimulating noise of neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Sounds can be damaging but meaningful noise is important for a baby's brain development.

Future research may look at how benefits in heart rate and respiratory rate, as a result of live music, affect clinical improvements such as removing oxygen or feeding tubes sooner.

Another benefit observed from this study was that parent preferred lullabies, sung live, can enhance bonding and thus decrease the stress parents experience when caring for a preemie baby.

Published in Industry News
Sunday, 08 December 2013 15:10

Algorithm Predicts Premature Births

About three decades ago, my girlfriend came to the world as a preemie, born in the 33rd week of pregnancy. She weighed only 3.7 lbs. For the record: every birth before the 37th week of gestation is considered preterm and hence risky. There were no complications, and she grew up healthily and normally. The truth is: there is a lot that could have gone wrong. There are things the doctors didn't know in the 1980ies.

One of these things is that during the last weeks of gestation, the development of the unborn's cerebral cortex takes place. Earlier this year, resesarchers of the King's College London have published a study in PNAS that shows the effect of preterm births on the developing brain: it can cause inferior cognitive performance in infants. Visual-spatial processing, decision making and working memory might all be affected. In order to assess this, the lead author, KCL's David Edwards, investigated the growth and density of nerve cells using diffusion MRI (dMRI).

Moreover, there are strong indications preterm births are a risk factor for sudden infant death, autism, ADHD and cerebral palsy. The CDC names preterm births as a risk factor for cerebral palsy, too. Breaking Bad co-star RJ Mitte suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy. It remains unclear, though, whether his condition was caused by preterm birth or not. A recent study suggests that also exposition to phthalates (contained in food, industry and hygiene products) are one of the causes for preterm deliveries.

But hope is underway. In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, computer scientist Paul Fergus and his team of researchers have found a way to predict preterm births using machine learning and the right data. They obtained the data by harnessing electrohysterography (EHG), that is measurng electrical signals of uterine activity. This method has been used before to measure the contractions during labour.

What Fergus' algorithm does is classify the recorded signals into term and preterm signals. The trick is to measure the uterine signals early on. The paper states that "distinct contraction-related, electrical uterine activity is present early on in pregnancy, even when a woman is not in true labour." The amount of these signals increases steadily during the pregnancy and shoots up during the last three to four days.

The new method is still prone to errors and produces results of varying quality, depending on the underlying data. The number of examined records suggests Fergus was not exactly using big data. 300 records of which only 38 were preterm records. Fergus himself states in the conclusion of his paper, that the low number of preterm records didn't allow the machine learning classifiers to learn properly. Even though, the concept works and seems promising. Once all errors have been eliminated, the technique could predict a "Yes" or "No" to answer the question "Will my child be born on term?" The resarchers suggest to further improve the quality of the algorithm's outcome in the future: The answer could then be how many weeks remain until the birth.

Published in Industry News
Thursday, 10 May 2012 18:29

Preemie Mom's Needed!

New Study - Get Involved! “Mother-to-Infant Attachment for Preterm Infants in the NICU: Relationship to Mother’s Intervention Participation and Infant Visitation”

About the Researcher:

I’m Jenny, mother to 4 ½-year-old son, Henry, who was born a preemie at 34 weeks. Now, I’m a doctoral student at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio investigating mother’s activities in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the mother-infant relationship that develops for premature infants during the first year of life.

Current Projects Description:

The attachment process between mothers and preterm infants on the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is not well understood. This study will investigate the relationship between mother-to-infant attachment and two factors: amount of maternal infant visitation in the NICU and amount of maternal participation in six NICU interventions (kangaroo care, infant massage, infant-directed singing, NICU preparation, parent-to-parent support, services from support persons on NICU staff). Mother’s infant visitation in the NICU was chosen to be measured based on its connection to key aspects related to mother-to-infant attachment in the literature, like proximity. Mother’s participation in specific NICU interventions were chosen to be measured based on their associations in the literature to maternal sensitivity and/or maternal distress, two factors influential in the development of mother-to-infant attachment. Descriptive data will also be collected in order to improve our knowledge of the distribution/prevalence of mother’s participation in NICU interventions and infant visitation. In this study, mothers of preterm infants will complete an online survey, the NICU & Attachment Survey, composed of three instruments. The Demographic Questionnaire will collect descriptive data, the NICU Interventions Questionnaire (NIQ) will assess participants’ participation in NICU interventions and infant visitation, and the Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale (MPAS) will evaluate mother-to-infant attachment. Participants will be invited for participation through online forums related to parents, mothers, infants, prematurity, and NICUs. Findings from this research may result in more understanding and support for the attachment process in the NICU for preterm infants and mothers.

Study Purpose:

The attachment process between mothers and preterm infants on the NICU is not well understood. This study will examine the correlation between mother-to-infant attachment and two factors: amount of maternal infant visitation in the NICU and amount of maternal participation in six NICU interventions (kangaroo care, infant massage, infant-directed singing, NICU preparation, parent-to-parent support, and services from support persons on NICU staff). This study will also investigate the relationship between some demographic variables (age, education, and income) and the other factors examined in this study (mother-to-infant attachment, mother’s visitation of infant in the NICU, and mother’s participation in NICU interventions). Findings from this study may result in a better understanding of these relationships and provide focus for future research in this area of study.

Benefits of Research:

Those participating in this research may feel justified in knowing that this research aims to assist mothers and infants, similar to themselves and their infants, who had the unique experience of preterm birth requiring mother-infant separation for treatment in a NICU setting. Participants may feel comforted and warranted in knowing that their exploration of these topics may help researchers and mental health professionals better understand which NICU interventions are most strongly related to mother-to-infant attachment. The findings from this research study may result in a better understanding of the relationship between mother’s infant visitation in the NICU and participation in NCIU interventions and the mother-to-infant attachment that develops. The findings from this study may be used to educate professionals and parents about the importance of any of the practices found to relate to mother-to-infant attachment in the NICU for preterm infants.


Invitation to Participate:

NICU & Attachment Study for Mothers of Premature Infants

If you are the mother of a premature infant who was cared for in the NICU, I invite you to participate in my dissertation study exploring mothers’ activities in the NICU and the mother-infant attachment that develops.


Participation involves a 20 minute, anonymous, online survey for those meeting criterion.


Your exploration of these topics may help researchers and mental health professionals better understand which NICU interventions are most strongly related to mother-to-infant attachment and educate NICU professionals and parents about the importance of these practices.


Published in Industry News
Friday, 25 July 2014 11:21

Creative Preemies

Light ... by Stacie McClinchie



A song has been sung throughout our lands for many generations, the story where a young boy saved our world from a hell-like creature. It tells of the child’s sacrifice to save his land, to help the world prosper once more, for this beast took the greatest treasure we had. It kept it in a chest inside a volcano to the south of our border, and we knew it would take a special kind of person to bring it back.


For years, the peaceful lands of Garduin had been plagued by a menace in the form of a dragon. Even now no one knows where it came from, or why it suddenly attacked anyone who passed through the range near its new home. No one had been brave enough to defeat the beast, for its breath was like the acid rains in the north, its soul as twisted as the dreaded southern forests. Armoured plates covered the massive beast and no amount of metal could break through the tough scales.


This dragon had no name, but whoever could defeat it would have the key to our treasure. No one came to help us. So, a young boy of about nineteen winters took up the challenge. He, too, has no recorded name—but he is our saviour.


Even in his youth he knew facing the dragon in its home was foolish, so he lured it out with offerings of gold. No one thought the dragon would be curious enough to investigate the boy – it, like so many of us, didn’t think that it could be bested by someone who couldn’t even wield a sword properly. He had faith, as the songs say, and the dragon did come.


The battle of insults was long and soon the dragon grew bored—it didn’t expect the boy to have another offering though. We know now that milk is the only liquid that will put a dragon to sleep. Large barrels of it awaited the dragon as it found the place the boy had described once he told the beast of a greater offering of peace.


As the massive beast slumbered, the boy found the dragon’s domain and took the treasure for himself. He didn’t care that the dragon had woken a half-day later to find its treasure stolen—the beast was not as stupid as many had thought. Keeping it a secret no longer bothered the beast, for it had kept it for far too long and many did not appreciate what it has been guarding.


When the boy stopped at the largest and closest town, the one that he was said to have lived in, he gave up the fortune for a chance to live a normal life. He knew he would have to give it up if he was to be free to live his own life, and it did not pain him to do so. Before the ordeal with the dragon, he was merely a stable-hand, with no lands of his own and no hope for a promising future.


Afterwards, he lived a life of luxury.


The treasure that was given to the church that day cannot not be seen by mortal eyes – its existence all depends on secrecy. It is safe now, in the largest church in Garduin. A large orb of light sits inside its box, held aloft by twisting gold marble serpents with crystal eyes; the chest that the dragon had been safeguarding, and this light—this being—is what will secure the future of our world. It is our god’s gift to our people—and what we do with it is up to us. It will either start a war, or help us prosper.


Of course, this is just a legend. We tell them—those who come seeking the treasure taken from the dragon—that there isn’t really a reptilian egg waiting in the catacombs of Garduin. But there is. And only we know of its existence.


Published in Industry News
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 19:39

Preemie Help Competition!

Calling all Preemie Parents!

Help Preemie Help, Help Preemies - by entering our preemie photo competition with the chance to win great prizes including, the preemiehelp ebook, “The Complete Guide to: Preemie Development.” and a Earlybirds Gift voucher (2 x $50) from Earlybirds

Enter as many categories you like for a chance to win. The categories are;

  • 1. life in the NICU
  • 2. my brave preemie
  • 3. look at me now!

To enter, visit Earlybirds facebook page at www.facebook.com/earlybirds and make a comment, and then email your photo to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with the title “photo competition - and the category the entry is for”

Best entries will appear on preemiehelp.com and competition winners will be announced on the 30th June. The competition winners as well as our highly recommended entries will also go toward developing a promotional video, please let us know if you would prefer not to be involved, you will still be eligible for the prizes.


Published in Industry News
Friday, 10 May 2013 14:01

Preemies School-age

Extremely preterm babies or extremely small prems are still behind their term born counterparts in relation to intellectual, educational, and behavioral outcomes by the time they reach school-age.

A study conducted in Victoria led by the Royal Women's Hospital followed up 189 extremely preterm or extremely low birth weight babies (less than 28 weeks gestation or weighing less than 1,000g) and 173 term born children at school-age. The areas assessed were intellectual ability, spelling, reading, mathematics, and a range of behavioral outcomes.

They found that 71% of the preterm born children had a cognitive, educational, or behavioral impairment at 8 years of age. In addition, up to 47% showed multiple areas of concern. These rates are much higher than that of the term born group which was 42% and 16% respectively. The major areas of concern were reading and spelling impairment which were double the rates in preemies compared with children born full term. The researchers also reported that 15% of the prems had a significant neurosensory impairment such as cerebral palsy.

Parents also completed questionnaires about their children which revealed that the preterm group had more behavioral problems including higher rates of hyperactivity, inattention, emotional problems, and peer relationship problems.

The positive message from this research is that the majority of babies born so early and small are now surviving without major disabilities.

This research highlights the need for early identification of children likely to have difficulties and early intervention strategies need to be employed to help these children before school-age.

Published in Industry News

The Victorian Brain Infants Studies (VIBeS) began a very important research project in January 2005, which aimed to establish if receiving developmental care at home was more beneficial than the current standard care, the study is known as the VIBeS Plus program.

There are around 3,000 very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams) or very preterm infants (less than 30 weeks gestational age) born each year in Australia. Survival rates for these very preterm infants have improved dramatically in the last few decades to be greater than 85%, however a significant proportion of children experience movement, behavioural or social problems which have life-long consequences. Early intervention programs, such as the VIBeS Plus program may reduce these risks. To date, the success of these programs has not been fully established.

The original VIBeS Plus study was a randomised control trial of a preventative care intervention. There were 120 families who participated and were randomised to either the “intervention group” or “control group”. The intervention designed by the Victorian Infant Brain Studies (VIBeS) team, consisted of 9 visits over the first year of life, conducted by 2 teams comprising a psychologist and a physiotherapist who were specially trained to deliver the intervention program. The intervention aimed to educate the primary caregivers about infant self-regulation and techniques for improving postural stability, coordination, and strength and to support the parents’ mental health and parent infant relationship throughout the first year. Each session lasted ~1.5 to 2.0 hours and was conducted in the family home, with a few exceptions in which the infants were seen in the hospital. Both groups were offered an MRI scan of their infant's brain at term corrected age.

Many of the neurobehavioral impairments described in preterm children persist into adolescence and adulthood. Further, caregivers of very preterm survivors experience high rates of mental health problems. Studies examining the effectiveness of early developmental intervention programs designed to reduce the burden of developmental problems report short-term benefits for infants and their caregivers.

VIBeS Plus previously demonstrated that at 2 years the early preventive care program improved preterm infants’ behavioural outcomes and reduced primary caregivers’ anxiety and depression. The follow-up study conducted at age 4 years showed that home-based preventive care over the first year had selective long-term benefits. There were meaningful differences in the thinking and learning, language and motor scores between treatment groups. Also, children in the intervention group showed less attention problems, such as ADHD, and behavior difficulties as well as increased competence compared with the controls.

Given the important role of parenting on child development, it is possible that the full benefits of this preventive care program will not be observed until later in development. Thus it is vital to determine whether early preventative care programs have long-term benefits beyond early development and preschool years. VIBeS Plus are currently following up this group of preterm children at school-age. Follow-up at school age is ideal for assessing the usefulness of this program, as this is when brain development and social maturation are relatively stable, and when the social demands of the environment (primary school) are also relatively consistent.

Published in Industry News
Saturday, 27 October 2012 13:27

Caffeine & Preterm Infants

Caffeine therapy is frequently used to reduce apnea in infants born preterm. It has been shown to improve both short- and long-term outcomes in preemies born less than 1,250 grams. In an Australia study called Caffeine in Apnea of Prematurity (CAP for short) the proportion of infants with lung injury called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) was lower when caffeine treatment started within the first 10 days of life compared with a placebo. Additionally, these researchers found that at 18 months preemies were less likely to be developmentally delayed or have cerebral palsy.

It is thought that the improvement in neurological outcome for preterm babies who have received caffeine therapy is due to the effect on cerebral white matter. Researchers from the CAP study reported that preemies who received caffeine for apnea may have more mature cerebral white matter organization. They also suggest that caffeine may be exerting a direct neuroprotective effect

The CAP study is now in the process of looking at the long-term outcome following caffeine treatment and will perform neuropsychological, lung functioning, and imaging analyzes on these children at age 11 years.

Published in 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
Friday, 30 March 2012 14:33

Grief – Quick Recovery Key

Becoming a parent of a preemie can result in, for good reason, feelings of grief and high levels of distress, which is similar to that of parents who have a child with a chronic illness (e.g. epilepsy or cerebral palsy). According to new research, the faster a mother of a preemie can overcome the feelings of grief they are experiencing the better the chances of developing secure attachment between baby and mother.

Experiencing a preterm birth has been described as an “emotional crisis” that is characterized by feelings of loss and grief, which can continue for months even after discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Mother’s of preemies must adapt her expectations and hopes for her baby in difficult and uncertain situations, and must mourn the loss of her hoped-for baby, while also trying to embrace the baby she has.

A history of unresolved grief experienced by mothers about their baby’s diagnosis has been associated with insecure infant-mother attachment. Most of this research has been carried out on chronic medical conditions or disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy. Persistent feelings of grief can affect a parent’s capacity to respond sensitively and contingently to baby’s cues. According to attachment theory a parent’s interactive behaviour influences later emotional development in the child. For example, contingently responsive and sensitive parenting contributes to secure attachment and therefore better social and emotional development. On the other hand, interactions lacking sensitivity and responsiveness are associated with insecure attachment.

A recent study undertaken by Prachi Shah M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital, aimed to investigate the association between mothers’ unresolved grief regarding their preterm birth and infant-mother attachment security. The study involved 74 preemies (i.e. born less than 36 weeks gestation) and their mothers and the analysis included assessment of neonatal and socioeconomic risk at NICU discharge, maternal depression, Reaction to Preterm Birth Interview findings, and quality of parenting at 9 months postterm, and infant-mother attachment at postterm age of 16 months.

Study conclusion –The study found that unresolved grief related to a preterm birth is associated with the development of insecure infant-mother attachment. Importantly, mothers with resolved grief after preterm birth are 3 times more likely to have secure infant-attachment compared with preterm mothers with unresolved grief. Mothers who demonstrated more positive interactions with their infants were also more likely to have securely attached infants. There researchers suggested that successfully getting over grief may require the mother to redirect her expectations and hopes for her child during uncertain circumstances, and mourn the “hoped-for child” as she still embraces the child she has.

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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