Wednesday, 02 November 2011 12:26

NICU Stress

As parents of premature babies well know, their tiny immature baby is likely to spend at least some time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU is where premature babies will receive specialized medical care allowing time for immature organs to develop sufficiently.

Although there are a number of factors that are associated with poorer developmental outcomes in very premature babies little is understood about the exposure to stress in the neonatal intensive care unit. A new study has focussed on this topic by examining neonatal infant stress and its effect on brain development.

This study involved 44 premature babies born less than 30 weeks gestation and trained nurses recorded procedures and cares. Stress was measured using a tool called the Neonatal Infant Stressor Scale (NISS), which consists of 36 interventions that contribute to infant stress. These premature babies then undertook a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to evaluate the relationship between brain structure and function and infant exposure to stress.

The findings of this study suggest that for premature babies exposure to stressors in the neonatal intensive care unit is associated with reduced brain size. It is not clear what the long-term consequences are and the authors suggest that further research of stress exposure on the premature baby brain is needed to improve outcomes for premature babies.

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
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, 23 March 2012 14:00

Families of Premmies; Going Green

After the resounding success of the first “Wear Green for Premmies” Day in 2011, Ms Julia Toivonen, founder of the L’il Aussie Prems website which hosted the inaugural event, is eagerly looking forward to this year’s fundraiser. The 2012 “Wear Green for Premmies” Day will be held on 4th April 2012.


Last year’s event attracted around 19,600 attendees and raised awareness of babies born prematurely. It raised much needed funds for five different charities all which support children.


In mid-January this year a Facebook event page was launched in an effort to reach as many families as possible in the lead up to April with over 6,000 already ‘attending’ the event. Word has spread through social networks of the fantastic work being done to raise funds through the “Wear Green for Premmies” Day. Ms Toivonen is expecting that this year’s event will attract an unprecedented number of attendees.


Funds will be raised through the sale of green wristbands sporting various premmie support messages chosen by the websites members. Funds will then be distributed amongst charities that support children throughout Australia. Attendees are also encouraged to fundraise on the day in support of the National Premmie Foundation.

Attendees do not attend a physical event but simply sign up to the event on the Wear Green for Premmies Day Facebook Page and encourage family and friends to wear something green on the 4th of April 2012.


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, 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
Friday, 06 January 2012 13:44

Parent Talk: Important for Preemies

An article recently published in the journal of Pediatrics reported that preterm babies who are exposed to their parents’ voices while in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU for short) have better vocalizations at 32 and 36 weeks gestational age.

A number of studies have reported that speech and language development can be delayed in preterm babies. The environment that a preterm baby is exposed to in the NICU is vastly different than that of a fetus of the same gestational age. The NICU exposes preterm babies to high levels of noise, yet while they are in the isolette little language is audible unless it is directed into the hole of the isolette. In contrast, while a fetus is in utero, mother’s voice is a major stimulus and this occurs during the development of the auditory system.

Numerous studies have reported on the importance of early language experience for normal development of speech and language processing; the more a parent talks to their children, the faster their vocabularies grow and the higher the child’s IQ. Since early language experience and exposure is important for language development and IQ, it is important to understand the experience of very preterm babies in the NICU because their sensory experience is so different to babies born full term.

Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics, Women and Infants Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island conducted a study to determine whether preterm babies exposed to more adult language would make more vocalizations. Vocalizations include any utterances, sounds made by the baby.

The study included 36 preterm babies with birth weights of 1250 grams or less and 16-hour recordings of the preterm baby’s environment in the NICU at 32 and 36 weeks’ gestational age were carried out. The researchers found that infant vocalizations were detected as early as 32 weeks and this increased significantly up to 36 weeks, this means that preterm babies start making vocalizations at least 8 weeks earlier than the typical starting date for a newborn baby. They also found that the number of conversational turns per hour were much higher when a parent was present.

The researchers conclude that for preterm babies, exposure to parental talk was a strong predictor of vocalizations at 32 weeks and conversational turns at 32 and 36 weeks than language from other adults. This highlights the importance of parent talk for preterm babies while in the NICU.

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, 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
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 13:00

Probiotics, Key to Preterm Survival

Research championed by The University of Western Australia has concluded that thousands of preterm babies worldwide could be saved if probiotics were added to their feeds. The team of researchers reviewed 11 randomised trials in over 2,000 babies born more than six weeks prematurely and found survival was doubled in premature babies who received certain probiotics.

 

Published in Industry News
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Preemiehelp.com is here to provide preemie information, community and solutions to the people that need it most... you!
Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

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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