Displaying items by tag: preterm birth
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
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
Monday, 31 December 2012 13:02

Persistent Language Problems

Babies born premature have poorer language abilities when compared to their peers at seven years of age, a Murdoch Childrens Research Institute study has found.

Researchers investigated language abilities in 198 children born very preterm (less than 32 weeks) and very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams) at seven years of age and compared their performance with 70 children who were born at term. Researchers also looked for white matter abnormalities as they hypothesised those children born preterm would demonstrate impaired language function because of the presence of diffuse white matter abnormalities.

The study, which is published in Journal of Pediatrics, found the group of children born very premature performed significantly worse than the children born at term on all language areas assessed including spoken word awareness, semantics, grammar, discourse and pragmatics.

The study showed that white matter abnormality occurring during the neonatal period was a key predictive factor for four out of five language areas seven years later. White matter abnormalities were associated with performance in phonological awareness, semantics, grammar, and discourse.

However, the results indicated that other factors associated with prematurity are also likely to influence language ability. Researchers said it's possible that environmental factors provide additional influence on language abilities; however, say further research is needed to understand the most significant determinants of cognitive skills.

Lead researcher, A/Professor Peter Anderson said the study highlights that families should closely monitor their child's language development.

The study, which is published in Journal of Pediatrics, found the group of children born very premature performed significantly worse than the children born at term on all language areas assessed including spoken word awareness, semantics, grammar, discourse and pragmatics.

"Language development is a clinically important area of development concern in these children. Paying close attention to a premature babies' language development is essential for parents so that discrepancies from normal development can be discovered and addressed during early childhood."

Researchers from the Institute are now developing a new preventive intervention for premature babies, which they hope will enhance language development, along with other functional outcomes.

Published in Industry News
Monday, 31 March 2014 13:52

Preterm Infants: Visual Processing

An Australia research project looking at the long-term outcome of preterm birth on visual processing has found that despite advances in medical care improving the survival rate of high-risk extremely low birth weight and/or extremely preterm infants, visual morbidity is still relatively high compared with controls in late adolescence.

 

Ocular growth and development differ between extremely low birth weight (ELBW, ,1000 g) or extremely preterm (EP, gestational age ,28 weeks) and term children and may have long-term negative consequences for visual function. Visual sensory and perceptual skills are important for a range of functions and everyday activities, such as classroom learning, overall school performance,successful social interaction, and social cognition. Consequently, understanding the nature and frequency of visual deficits in ELBW/EP children is vital to inform adequate and appropriately targeted clinical follow-up and to increase focus on developing avenues for remediation.

The study involved following up 228 extremely preterm survivors born in Victoria in 1991 and 1992 and 166 randomly selected normal birth weight controls. The participants were assessed between the ages of 14 and 20 years of age. Visual acuity, stereopsis, convergence, color perception, and visual perception were assessed and contrasted between groups.

The researchers reported that adolescents born extemely preterm had worse visual acuity, poorer depth perception, and more problems with visual perception. Given the potential importance of visual perceptual skills to more complex tasks and academic achievement, these results have important clinical relevance.

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

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
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 20:42

Photo Competition Winners Announced

Congratulations to the preemiehelp photo competition winners!

Thanks too all the people that entered our Preemiehelp Photo competition.

The winners share in great prizes including, the preemiehelp ebook, “The Complete Guide to: Preemie Development.” and a Earlybirds Gift voucher (2 x $50) from Earlybirds

And the Winners are...

After much deliberation we can annouce the winners of the Preemiehelp 'preemie photo competition' .

Prizes are awarded for 3 categories

  • Life in the NICU
  • My Brave Preemie
  • Look at Me Now 

After an overwhelming responce to the competition we are happy to announce that..

In First Place

Collecting a prize of $50 Earlybirds Voucher (earlybirds.com.au) and a full set of the Preemiehelp "The preemie guide to: Surviving the NICU" & " The preemie guide to: Preemie development" is:

Angela Perry - Life in the NICU

With her winning photo - 

Photo: 1st - Angela Perry (Life in the NICU)

 

 

In Second Place

Collecting a prize of $50 Earlybirds Voucher (earlybirds.com.au) and the Preemiehelp ebook " The preemie guide to: Preemie development" is:

Andrea Creighton - My Brave Preemie

With her winning photo -

Photo: 2nd - Andrea Creighton (My brave preemie)

 

 

In Third Place

Collecting a full set of the Preemiehelp ebooks  "The preemie guide to: Surviving the NICU" & " The preemie guide to: Preemie development" is:

Ken & Lisa Young - Look at me now

With their winning photo -

Photo: 3rd - Ken & Lisa Young (Look at me now)

 

 

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
Tuesday, 17 June 2014 14:59

Preemie Parents Skin

Talking about parent’s skin might seem weird – after all the skin barrier is fully developed and most people already have their own skincare regime. But preemie parents have some unique skincare needs primarily due to the unique environment of the NICU. If you’re a parent of a preemie baby you will be familiar with the humidity of the NICU – designed to prevent temperature instability, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance caused by the immaturity of preemie skin. You’ll also be acutely aware of the importance of clean, sterilized hands when handling your prem. You no doubt have a ritual when arriving at the hospital that involves thorough hand washing and sanitizing. These two factors in particular often lead to very dehydrated and under-nourished hands. You probably also notice that your face and lips are also dry and sensitive.

You may not be able to abide by your usual skincare routine and your requirements are likely quite different. It is for these reasons we decided to work with skincare experts to formulate products specifically for preemie parent needs.

One of our best active ingredients in Sea Kelp.

What’s so Good about Sea Kelp?


The medicinal benefits of kelp have been renowned for centuries due to its ability to enhance health and beauty. The seawater where kelp grows contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, proteins and enzymes that have wonderful benefits for the skin.

Sea Kelp Bioferment can be used as a great nutritive active to skincare lotions and moisturizers. Sea Kelp is firming, healing and soothing for any skin type and is a powerful nutritive moisturizer for normal and dry skin as well as having antioxidant properties, also a fantastic plus for the skin.

Sea Kelp can also help keep skin looking firmer and younger as it helps prevent loss of skin elasticity. Research has demonstrated that the iodine in Sea Kelp effectively removes free radicals - chemicals that accelerate ageing - from human blood cells.

If that wasn’t enough Sea Kelp also contains minerals like calcium, fluorine and magnesium that contribute to a more radiant skin tone. It is also rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E, as well as minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc - vitamins and minerals that are essential to regenerating skin cells and tissue.

The Product!


SEA KELP CORAL NICU HAND CREAM - PROTECTION FORMULA A RICH THICK BARRIER CREAM TO PROVIDE MOISTURIZING PROTECTION FOR HANDS DRY AND TIRED FROM LONG DAYS IN THE NICU This exceptional product provides cover when you need extra protection and will help prevent water loss from damaged skin. A careful blend including sea kelp coral helps soften, moisturize, and remove toxins from the skin. Perfect for skin regularly subjected to air-conditioning and hand sanitiser.

Published in Preemiehelp 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
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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

All in one easy to read eguide

‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

With an easy-to-read layout this comprehensive guide is over 130 pages of important information about the NICU and your preemie.

Using Adobe’s .pdf format makes the guide usable across a wide range of platforms from ipad to PC, smartphone to macbook.

Packed with extra features like progress charts, NICU checklists and plenty of others. ‘The preemie guide’ is a must for any new parents.


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