Displaying items by tag: preterm birth
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:42

Psychiatric Risk for Preemies

BABIES born very preterm, before 32 weeks' gestation, have higher rates of psychiatric disorders by school age compared with their peers.

A study by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne shows a number of factors that predict which very preterm children are at higher risk. These factors include brain abnormalities soon after birth, a history of social-emotional problems and social risk.

Social risk factors include family structure, education of primary caregiver, language spoken at home and mother's age when the child was born.

Lead researcher, clinical psychologist Dr Karli Treyvaud says the results offer hope as the risk factors can be identified early in life, increasing the opportunity for intervention.

The study, which included 177 very preterm children (VPT) and 65 children born at term, found almost one quarter of the VPT children were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder by age seven. This is three times higher than their peer group.

The most common diagnoses were anxiety disorders (11 per cent), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (10 per cent) and autism spectrum disorders (4.5 per cent).

The rate of autism among children born pre-term was about four times higher than recent Australian population estimates. Dr Treyvaud said the 11 per cent of children born pre-term in the study who had anxiety disorders compared with 8 per cent for those born full-term.

For ADHD, the 10 per cent of children born pre-term who had the condition compared with 3 per cent born full-term.

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, 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, 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
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
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, 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
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
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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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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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