Friday, 03 June 2011 13:40

Flu Shot and Preterm Birth

Having a flu shot may reduce the risk of having a preterm birth. A new study in the US reported that women who received the vaccine and gave birth during the flu season were 40% less likely to have a baby born prematurely.

 

Published in Industry News
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
Friday, 02 March 2007 17:28

Preemie defies the odds

A preterm baby from Cardiff defied the odds of survival when he arrived 4 months early, weighing just 620 grams (1lb 6oz).  Doctors gave home a 5% chance of survival but his parents are thrilled with his progress.  Little baby Kaven was kept in hospital for 5 months and needed 2 operations, one for a serious bowel infection.  Although Kaven is home and progressing well doctors have told his parents that with preemies born this early. other difficulties may emerge.  Kaven's parents are also concerned about a weakness he has on his left side.

Published in New about Preemies
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
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
Friday, 23 November 2012 10:19

Brain Growth & Preemies

Neuroscientists in the US have found that the rate of brain growth in the weeks before preterm babies reach their expected due date is related to their cognitive (thinking and learning) abilities as children. It was found that between 24 to 44 weeks postmentrual age (PMA) that the rate of cerebral cortical growth is able to predict complex cognitive functioning but not motor skills in later childhood. Postmentrual age refers to your preemies gestational weeks plus their chronological age.

The study involved performing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain of 82 preterm infants up to 8 times. They also took part in a battery of neuropsychological tests at age 2 and 6 years.

The results indicate that the period before a full term brith, the last gestational weeks in the uterus, are critical for brain development, so for preemie babies the more the cerebral cortex grows early in life the better their outcome when they reach 6 years of age.

Published in Industry News
Sunday, 27 February 2011 13:18

World's tiniest preemie

Preemie baby, Amillia, is believed to be the first baby to survive after being born less than 22 weeks gestation.  Amillia was born at the Baptist Children's Hospital in Miami at just 284 grams (10 ounces), an age and weight usually expected to have no chance of survival.  Although Amillia has suffered from respiratory problems, a mild brain haemorrhage, and some digestive difficulties doctors have given her an excellent prognosis.  As with many mothers of premature infants, Amillia's mom wasn't able to hold her baby for more than 6 weeks after she was born.  Amillia spent more than 4 months in the hospitals neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and went home with asthma medication and extra oxygen.

Published in Preemies in the News
Tuesday, 19 April 2011 17:46

Price Slashed-Preemie prevention drug

KV Pharmaceutical Co., the maker of an expensive drug to prevent premature births slashed the price by more than half on Friday (1st April 2011), following an outcry over the high cost and moves by federal regulators to keep a cheap version available.

 

Published in Industry News
Saturday, 21 January 2012 12:17

Training Preemie Parents

Recent research conducted in Norway has found that helping preemie parents better understand and interact with their babies may improve behavioral outcomes at school-age. This is an important finding as children born preterm are at greater risk for behavioral difficulties such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Preemies, particularly those who have been in intensive care units have been described as being more “difficult” and score less favorably in mood, adaptability, persistence, rhythmicity and distractibility than full term infants in standardized measures of temperament. Parents of preemies report that their babies are harder to understand, which can make it more challenging to successfully interact with them.

Researchers at the University Hospital of North Norway recruited 146 preemies born less than 2,000 grams (4 pounds, 6 ounces) who then either participated in a training program or undertook standard care only. Seventy-five full term infants were also recruited to be used as a baseline comparison. The intervention consisted of 8 sessions shortly before discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and 4 home visits by specially trained nurses focusing on the infant's unique characteristics, temperament, and developmental potential and the interaction between the infant and the parents. A follow-up of these babies at age 5 years found that preemies whose parents received the training had fewer behavior problems, such as inattention, aggression, or withdrawn behaviour. A key point of this study is that teaching parents skills from the beginning of their baby’s life is important and particularly so for parents of preemies.

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
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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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