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
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, 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
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

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
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
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
Saturday, 27 October 2012 13:27

Caffeine & Preterm Infants

Caffeine therapy is frequently used to reduce apnea in infants born preterm. It has been shown to improve both short- and long-term outcomes in preemies born less than 1,250 grams. In an Australia study called Caffeine in Apnea of Prematurity (CAP for short) the proportion of infants with lung injury called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) was lower when caffeine treatment started within the first 10 days of life compared with a placebo. Additionally, these researchers found that at 18 months preemies were less likely to be developmentally delayed or have cerebral palsy.

It is thought that the improvement in neurological outcome for preterm babies who have received caffeine therapy is due to the effect on cerebral white matter. Researchers from the CAP study reported that preemies who received caffeine for apnea may have more mature cerebral white matter organization. They also suggest that caffeine may be exerting a direct neuroprotective effect

The CAP study is now in the process of looking at the long-term outcome following caffeine treatment and will perform neuropsychological, lung functioning, and imaging analyzes on these children at age 11 years.

Published in Industry News
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, 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
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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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