Reports say that one in every ten babies born prematurely in the United States. The premature babies are at a risk of several medical complications. In fact, premature birth is one of the leading causes of death among infants. The infants who survive often face health issues through life.
The premature babies are not well equipped to live in this world. Their little bodies have underdeveloped parts and at times, vital organs like lungs and the digestive system are not well developed. The skin and the immune system do not develop properly at times either. There are several technologies available today that are cutting down the time the preemies spend in the hospital nowadays.
Breathing Problem in Premature Kids is Addressed Better
One of the prime concerns that babies face when they are born prematurely is breathing. Since their lungs are not well developed, they need support to breathe properly. The conventional practice is setting the ventilation for providing oxygen at the rate of about 30 to 60 breaths a minute. The researchers wanted to see if the babies could be provided HFOV or high-frequency oscillatory ventilation to improve lung functioning. HFOV provides constant pressure on the lungs, fluctuating the pressure by small amounts, at a very fast pace. This aids in exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen, all the while keeping the lungs inflated. A device has been developed recently that tricks the brain of the infant making it presume that it is working. This prompts them to breathe. According to a study, the device is a small box with wires connected to small discs placed on the skin. The disk begins vibrating as soon as this machine is turned on. This triggers the nerve fibers to alert the brain that the body parts are moving. “Long-term use of the device could decrease breathing pauses, maintain normal oxygen levels, stabilize the cardiovascular system and help improve neuro developmental outcomes in preterm infants. We may be able to bring about this change with something that is non-invasive, drug-free and has no side-effects, and there is nothing better than that,” pointed out Kalpashri Kesavan, a Neonatologist in the United States.
Device to Measure the Body Composition of Premature Kids Available
It is possible to measure the body composition of the premature kids today. Making use of an air displacement method, it is possible to determine the percentage of fat and lean body mass in the body of the baby. This aids in personalizing the care and incorporating nutritional supplements thereby helping the baby to gain weight significantly faster. “If weight gain is lagging but body content is within those norms, this might guide us to favor the use of one macronutrient like fat, protein or carbohydrate over another as we add calories to their diet,” pointed out Ellen Mack who worked as a neonatal clinical nurse for more than 17 years. She adds, “If fat content is more than two standard deviations away from the healthy, term norm, that might lead us in a different direction regarding which macronutrients we emphasize in supplementing feedings.”
App to Make Incubators Feel Like the Womb
For the babies, the sound of the heartbeat of the mother is not simply comforting, it has a really significant role to play in the brain development of the baby. The Samsung Voice of Life allows a mother record heartbeat and other soothing sounds on her phone and then gets rid of the high frequencies, recreating the in-utero ambiance. When this is played on a speaker in the neo natal unit, it reassures the child. Moreover, it allows the mother to connect with the child. This is still not much in use but if this can take off, it can ensure a better start for the preemies.
Apart from the above discussed, there is another popular treatment. It is kangaroo care or skin to skin care. Though this treatment has nothing technological about it, it is impossible to ignore it since it is one of the best ways to care for a premature child. When the baby is in skin to skin contact, s/he can hear the heartbeat of the mother, the only sound s/he is familiar with. This soothes the baby and stabilizes the breathing and blood pressure.
Things are improving for the preemies and there are several technologies available today that allows even the smallest infants progress faster and return to their family. Hope that things improve further so that premature birth ceases to be the reason behind the death of infants.