NICU doctor stresses importance of immediate care for premature - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

NICU doctor stresses importance of immediate care for premature babies

A cradle in a NICU unit. A cradle in a NICU unit.
St. Louis, Mo. -

Between 9.3 and 10.1 percent of babies are born premature in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri according to the March of Dimes. Many premature babies face extra obstacles as they fight to survive.

Some of those babies are taken to hospitals with Neonatal Intensive Care Unites like at the St. Louis Children's Hospital. Each baby faces different difficulties depending on how premature the baby is born.

Dr. Sessions Cole with the St. Louis Children's hospital says, regardless, premature babies need care almost immediately after birth

"We know more and more about the fact that the golden hour, immediately after birth is very important to making sure that the baby gets off to a good start regardless of the kind of problem that the baby has," Cole said.

The March of Dimes reports the percentage of babies born prematurely in St. Louis is 12.5 percent, higher than the state average of 9.8. 

Dr. Cole says though a women's due date sounds scientific and exact, it can be slightly off. Cole says that's important because the chances of survival for a premature baby changes dramatically over a few weeks.

Due to how the baby develops during pregnancy, premature labor can impact the child as they develop in life.

"The risk of the problems that babies might develop is really a function of how prematurely the babies are born," Dr. Cole said. "The more prematurely they're born, the more likely there will be some kind of problems down the road."

Dr. Cole says about one-third of babies born 13 to 16 weeks early will have no problems when they are five years old, another third will have a minor problem like clumsiness and the other third will develop a more significant problem like vision or hearing loss. 

To hear how a mother handled the experience of having a premature baby, click here.

To see more on the March of Dimes and how they help advocating prenatal care for women, click here. 

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