Prematurity: The difference a week makes
Posted on 6 November 2018
Preterm birth can be a scary reality for some parents in South Africa. “Any infant born before 37 weeks’ gestation is described as preterm,” explains Dr Samantha O’Ryan, a neonatologist at Mediclinic Panorama.
Mediclinic hospitals across South Africa are well-equipped to provide the life-saving treatment and care that preterm babies need when they are born.
Sister Prudence Bvuma, a senior professional nurse in the neonatal ICU (NICU) at Mediclinic Medforum, says ensuring a good outcome can be trying. “We are dealing with anxious parents who generally weren’t prepared for a preterm baby,” she says.
The NICU staff provide life-saving treatments including administering surfactant, phototherapy, helping babies breathe either by CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or mechanical ventilation.
It has been proven that skin-to-skin, also known as Kangaroo Care, and frequent breastfeeding is highly beneficial for preterm babies. This treatment is started very soon, although initially there is minimal handling of the babies.
NICU nurses and doctors practise something called Neurodevelopmental Supportive Care (NDSC) which ensures the baby grows well neurologically and physically.
As long as preterm babies get the proper treatment and care they need after birth, they can go on to lead healthy lives and thrive. But preterm babies can have developmental delays that may need the help of a physiotherapist later on in life.