Low Cost Study Has High Impact Results For Premature Babies

October 09, 2018 11:48 AM
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Low Cost Study Has High Impact Results For Premature Babies 1362631
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((INTRODUCTION)) [[No one knows why some babies are born prematurely, but some of the smallest premature babies weigh under 1,500 grams.These tiny babies -- micro preemies -- cannot afford to lose any weight. At Children's National Medical Center in Washington, a team of specialists has come up with a plan to give these babies the best chance to thrive. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.]] ((NARRATOR)) When J.C. was born, he weighed just a little more than 736 grams, but look at him now. He no longer looks like the micro-preemie he once was.  ((VANESSA OHAKAM, MOTHER))  "I was so scared to touch him at first, and he was so small, and...."//// "I couldn't even change a diaper I was so nervous and anxious. He just looked so frail. But the nurses were very supportive and encouraging."  ((NARRATOR)) J.C. was born at just 24 weeks. Full term babies are born between 39 and 40 weeks.  A team of specialists at the NICU, the neo-natal intensive care unit at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, wanted to see if they could help J.C. and other very small preterm babies boost their weight and improve their chances to thrive. ((MICHELANDE RIDORÉ, QUALITY IMPROVEMENT LEAD, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER)) "Preemies, in particular, have high incidents of malnutrition as well as poor development." ((NARRATOR))  These babies have so little body fat, they can't afford to waste energy.  Some are in blanketed incubators to encourage sleep. The team focused on what and when the babies ate.  ((CAITLIN FORSYTHE, RN, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER)) "We noticed that a lot of our practitioners ((doctors)) and the way that they were providing feedings for very low birth weight babies, those are babies weighing 1500 grams or less, they were being fed different varying ways." ((NARRATOR)) ((preparing breast milk,  They wanted to make sure all babies were getting the same care to boost calories and improve their nutrition. Wherever possible, the team emphasized mother's milk. ((CAITLIN FORSYTHE, RN, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER)) "That's what's best for the premature babies. They tolerate it better, and it has great antibodies." ((JUDY CAMPBELL, LACTATION CONSULTANT, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER))  "We know that mother's milk has growth factors in it that can't be replaced with any other substance." ((NARRATOR)) The team standardized nutrition practices. They can include fortified donor breast milk for babies whose mothers can't provide their own, or fortified mother's milk or formula, depending on each baby's needs. ((CAITLIN FORSYTHE, RN, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER)) I am very pleased. We have been able to put protocols in place so that there's a standardization of care. We've also increased the amount of mother's own milk we've been providing for the babies which is great." ((MICHELANDE RIDORÉ, QUALITY IMPROVEMENT LEAD, CHILDREN'S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER))  "We were able to improve their weight by 30 percent."  ((NARRATOR)) The team isn't done yet. They want to tweak the nutrition practices to see if they can improve their results. Once they are finished, they will publish the results so other micro-preemies can benefit, too.  ((CAROL PEARSON, VOA NEWS WASHINGTON))