Wednesday, 20 March 2013 17:06

Wear Green for Premmies

A SEA OF GREEN IN SUPPORT OF PREMMIE BABIES

Last year saw the phenomenal success of the annual ‘Wear Green for Premmies’ day, an event hosted by the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation and organisers are looking forward to this year’s fundraiser and hope to repeat that success again on Wednesday 3rd April 2013.

Wear Green for Premmies is a day where thousands of people in Australia and around the world wear green clothing or purchase wristbands to show their support and raise awareness of the trials and hardships of premature babies and their families.

Over the past two years, members and their families have joined in the celebration with photos being posted on the event's page to show a sea of green in support of all children born too soon. Last year saw thousands of Facebook participants including eight hospitals and many businesses showing their support.

Part of the proceeds from wristband sales from the past two years of celebrations has been equally distributed to charities and causes all over the country but this year proceeds will be used to purchase items and are being donated directly to 2 Special Care Nurseries and 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Units all for the benefit of affected families. Participants don't have to attend a physical event, but are invited to sign up to the Facebook event and encourage family and friends to wear green, purchase a wristband and fundraise online directly to support the cause.

Now entering into its third year of celebrations, the event and website has grown well beyond the expectations of Ms Toivonen who started the support website in 2007 after the premature birth of her first son at 27 weeks gestation. Ms Toivonen built the online support group as a way to reach out to new parents but also for her own family to gain support from others who had travelled a similar journey.

In late 2012, a committee was formed and the website soon became a registered not-for-profit charity. The committee comprises of parents themselves who are all long time members of the online community. The website and forum has blossomed over the past six years into Australia's largest online community and forum for families with prematurely born children and sick newborns.

For photo opportunities with families in your state or further information: Nicole Powell, Vice President (Communications), L’il Aussie Prems Foundation 0412 378 793 I This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | Wantirna, Victoria


Preemiehelp is interested in hearing from you, please feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our Facebook page by following this link

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
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 20:15

Preemies and Attention

Preemiehelp is pleased to announce that Michelle Wilson-Ching Ph.D is the latest contributor to our website. Dr Wilson-Ching is an expert in attention difficulties experienced by preterm children. She completed her dissertation in 2010 and now works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Australia's Murdoch Children's Research Institute. Michelle was a researcher in a large regional cohort study based in Victoria, Australia called the Victorian Infant Collborative Study or VICS for short. The aim of VICS is to establish the extent of long-term health problems that occur in the tiniest (those of birthweight less than 1000 g) and most premature (those born less than 28 weeks of gestation) preterm survivors born in Victoria.

 

Published in Industry News
Friday, 21 October 2011 07:57

Antenatal & Postnatal Depression

Preemie Help would like to introduce the newest expert to contribute an article in their area of expertise. Natalie Worth is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the treatment of women with post natal adjustment and depression issues.

Post Natal depression is sometimes referred to as Postpartum depression, whereas Post Natal and Ante Natal Depression are also both called Perinatal depression or PND for short.

Both antenatal and postnatal depression have long been significant issues, for women in particular, which has largely been avoided and not spoken of. The good news is, the conversations around this topic are increasing and women are more likely to discuss, report, or seek help for perinatal depression compared with 10 years ago. The other very important issue is that perinatal depression often responds very well to early detection followed by well chosen treatment, under good medical and psychological direction.

Natalie Worth is an expert in this area and helps many families with perinatal depression, inlcuding parents of preemies. Her tails are as follows;

  • Natalie Worth
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Adelaide Hills South Australia
  • Mobile number 0413 984 724
  • Fax Number 8388 0745
  • Individual and Group Therapy

Natalie sees women with post natal adjustment and depression issues and offer groups and one to one services. Currently the groups have openings and she can offer a one off interview prior to joining a group and then in 1 month or so, she will have more one to one counselling spots available too. Natalie is based in Littlehampton South Australia - her contact details for clients and workers is 0413 984 724. She is able to offer Medicare rebates for clients who are GP referred with a mental health care plan , and her current gap is $30.20, with some discounts and the group out of pocket fee is lower than this too.

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, 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
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, 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
Monday, 07 July 2014 11:49

Preterm Birth Breakthrough: Infections

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Industry News
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
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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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