SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Newborn babies who need specialized medical care are often placed in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, for short. While the NICU provides top-notch treatment for the baby, many parents are stressed about not being able to be with their little ones 24/7. Now, technology is changing that, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baby Weslie was born six weeks early with a condition that requires round the clock care in the hospital NICU. Being away from her new baby is tough for mom Whitney Broom, but this camera makes the situation a little easier.
“I go home most nights and when I’m home, I like to see my daughter,” explained Broom.
Broom can log in from an app for free and see Weslie any time of the day or night.
“I just like to check in on her. Usually, she’s sleeping. That makes me feel more comforted when I know she’s just sleeping,” Broom continued.
The hospital staff says NICU cameras have changed the game for families. The technology can be used by moms staying in the hospital or those who are discharged and go home at night.
Brittaney Lincoln, RNC-NIC, of UC San Diego Health said, “So, this allows them to have a way to connect with their baby without physically having to be there.”
The system also has functions to let parents speak to their babies and chat with the caregivers. In a review published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, researchers found only a small portion of parents reported negative feedback. Overall, web-based cameras in the NICU enhanced parent-infant attachment and reduced parental stress and anxiety.
“Parents really find peace of mind in being able to check on their babies visibly while they’re away from the bedside,” shared Lincoln.
They also allow for distant family members to join in.
“I know my parents will have their morning coffee and sit and put her on their iPad and watch her,” Broom said.
Giving families a glimpse into their newborn’s world.
“So that just gives us a big comfort when we’re not able to be here,” smiled Broom.
The nurses at this hospital say the cameras don’t require any changes to their usual treatment plan other than they have to remember to turn them on. The nurses know that a family member is watching when the red light is blinking. Parents of the baby must sign a consent that they want to use the cameras. Right now, there are more than 80 hospitals using this camera system.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis and Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
ANGEL EYES: CAMERAS IN THE NICU
BACKGROUND: A premature baby is a baby that is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Each year, about 1 in 10 babies in the United States is born prematurely. These babies may not be fully developed at birth and may have more health problems and need to stay in the hospital longer than babies born later. Some premature babies spend time in a hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU). This is the nursery where sick newborns get medical care. They stay in the NICU until their organs develop enough to stay alive without medical support. Some babies need NICU care for weeks, and some even months. Problems like intellectual or developmental disabilities can show up as the baby grows and even later in childhood. These are problems with how the brain works that can cause a person to have trouble or delays in physical development, learning, communicating, taking care of himself, or getting along with others.
TECHNOLOGY AND MILESTONES: Hospitals around the country have been upgrading their NICU’s to include personal webcams. It’s a convenience for parents and reduces worries about people bringing in germs. Parents’ peace of mind is the primary goal, and the cameras give more people the opportunity to see the babies. Research shows that parents have loved the video access which enables them to follow growth and important milestones. However, a study published in the American Journal of Perinatology found some nurses have reservations about being watched all day and all night. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists important milestones in a child’s growth, so you know what to watch for at each age. The day your baby was born is the official date of birth, but the estimated due date is also important. When you measure your baby’s development, or when you look at what is “normal” for your baby’s age, consider both of those dates. By looking at the difference between them, you can adjust the calendar age to account for the prematurity and calculate the corrected age. Using the corrected age during the first 2 years will give a better idea when common developmental goals might be reached.
(Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/28/610953197/cameras-on-preemies-let-in-families-keep-germs-out and https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/preemie/Pages/Preemie-Milestones.aspx)
BENEFITS OF CAFFEINE THERAPY: A study by University of Calgary researchers shows the earlier the dose of caffeine can be given to preemies, the better. “Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the NICU after antibiotics,” says Dr. Abhay Lodha, MD, associate professor in the departments of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the Cumming School of Medicine and staff neonatologist with Alberta Health Services (AHS). It’s believed that caffeine may increase the growth of dendrites, the small branches of a neuron that receive signals from other neurons. The researchers found early caffeine treatment had no long-term negative effects on neurodevelopment, was associated with better cognitive scores, and reduced odds of cerebral palsy and hearing impairment. Lodha continued, “Caffeine may also improve better lung stretch and expansion, cardiac output and blood pressure in premature infants, which improves oxygen supply throughout the body and brain.”
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