A Neonatal Nurse Specialist at the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, Madam Sheila Nigre, says a lot of preterm babies have survived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Hospital over the years.
“In fact as part of our success stories, we have actually managed a baby that was delivered with a weight of 0.7 kilograms, and as we speak, that girl is about four years,” she disclosed.
She said the delivery of preterm babies by some expectant mothers was not a curse as that was the belief among some members of the public who blame and speak ill of mothers of such babies, insisting “There is hope for the preterm baby.”
Madam Nigre said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the NICU of the Hospital to highlight some success stories of the Unit over the years.
She explained that preterm babies were delivered before the 37 completed weeks of gestation and several maternal and foetal factors including; maternal age accounted for preterm deliveries, “Records have it that women that are less than 20years of age are at a higher risk of delivering preterm babies.
“Again, women that are above the age of 40 are equally at higher risk of delivering preterm babies. Maternal infections, complicated malaria in pregnancy can make a women deliver earlier than expected,” she said.
She further explained that expectant mothers with some medical conditions such as pregnancy induced hypertension which complicates to a certain stage, diabetes and sickle cell disease were some of the conditions that could cause preterm deliveries.
She said chromosomal abnormalities could also cause preterm deliveries and encouraged mothers of such babies not to lose hope as most of such babies survived with the specialised care health professionals give them at the NICU.
Madam Nigre, who is also the NICU Manager, emphasized that irrespective of the causes of preterm deliveries, “Once the baby is referred to NICU, the expert care immediately starts with assessment of the baby.
“It is worth noting that because these babies were delivered earlier than expected, they are actually prone to a whole lot of health problems,” the Neonatal Nurse Specialist said.
She indicated that professionals at the NICU initiated a special care known as the Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) as part of the care for preterm babies, “But before we initiate the KMC, the baby has to be stable with a good weight of say one kilogram.”
The Specialist Nurse said there were two forms of the KMC, the intermittent and the continuous KMC, which protects babies from cold, as it was one of the issues preterm babies suffered in the first days of life.
“They easily get cold, and once they get cold and you don’t intervene immediately, other complications set in, the sugar level can drop, the respiration can also change and they can go into respiratory distress. We don’t have much control over the sugar and the respiration, but we have control over the cold.”
She said in spite of the huge cost involved in caring for preterm babies, a lot of such babies had survived under their care over the years, adding that even though preterm babies were the major cause of admission in the Unit, it was not the leading cause of death.