November is World Prematurity Awareness month, with World Prematurity Day on the 17th November 2020. These are global movements to raise awareness of the challenges and devastating impacts some face due to preterm births.
It is estimated that 15 million babies are born preterm globally every year. In the UK alone, that is around 60,000 preterm babies a year, approximately 8% of all births.
A preterm baby is a baby born before the 37 weeks’ gestation. The World Health Organisation categorises preterm babies as the following;
- Extremely preterm – less than 28 weeks
- Very preterm – 28 to 32 weeks
- Moderate to late preterm – 32 to 37 weeks
In the UK, it is estimated that it costs the NHS in excess of £1000 a day to look after those babies in a neonatal intensive care unit. Premature babies often require additional support to help them and their organs fully develop, such as an incubator to control their temperature, ventilators to support their tiny lungs and feeding tubes.
Although being born prematurely can cause a number of health issues, more tests are being carried out in neonatal units to reduce these. Retinopathy of prematurity is an eye condition that affects babies born prematurely when oxygen therapy is used. If given too much oxygen, scar tissue may develop in the baby, resulting in the retina being pulled loose from the inner surface of the eye (also known as retinal detachment). This can lead to a baby having complete vision loss and becoming blind.
Here at SLE, we thought it was important to prevent this from happening. This is why our module OxyGenie, on the SLE6000, constantly analyses a baby’s SpO2 every second and adjusts the baby’s saturation accordingly, without the need of manual interventions. This means nurses can spend more time caring for the baby, and less with the ventilator!
Please join us in thanking all nurses, doctors and support staff for their wonderful and hard work saving tiny babies and supporting their families in most difficult times. Together, we can help prevent the impacts that can lead from premature births.