UAE: The earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of prematurity complications, says medical expert

Dr Akuma Oti Akuma explains all about premature birth and reasons for condition


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Wed 16 Nov 2022, 4:05 PM

Prematurity is a global health concern. A medical expert at a hospital in Abu Dhabi said newborn babies are admitted to the neonatology ICU (NICU) because of several reasons and most common reason is premature birth and its complications.

“A premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy, but the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications,” said Dr Akuma Oti Akuma, Chair of Department of Neonatology, Corniche Hospital, ahead of World Premature Day, which falls on November 17.

“The earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications,” he said.

“Various body organs of such immature babies cannot sustain life unsupported. NICU nurses and doctors have the training and skills to offer needed support including artificial ventilation (on a ventilator), advanced cardio-circulatory support, provision of artificial feeding, treatment of infection and relevant healthcare screening and surveillances.”

“Corniche Hospital’s NICU is unique because of its ability to cater for the sickest and smallest preterm babies and critically ill term newborns. Our cot capacity allows us to act as the referral centre of last resort,” he added.

The medical expert says the hospital also provides total body cooling therapy for babies who have suffered lack of oxygen to the brain during difficult and complicated delivery.

A number of babies at the hospital stay a long time in the NICU because of the complexities of their problems. “We provide parents and families regular updates regarding their progress as needed. We are also able to facilitate bedside video calls when it is not possible for parents to visit, allowing parents to stay connected to their newborn and communicate with the medical team that cares for their baby,” said Akuma.

"When the process of transition to long-term care facilities is needed; we endeavour to making it as seamless as possible. Parental bonding is actively encouraged and supported through our comprehensive developmental care packages including private space to facilitate privileged moments between parents and their preemie, kangaroo care (skin-to-skin) support and rooming-in for parents with their babies before discharge.

“We also provide bereavement support to parents and family of a dying baby in a manner that respect their religious and cultural sensitivities,” said the doctor.

According to Akuma, newborn infants on NICU are at a very high risk of blood stream infections. One of the biggest risks is having a central vascular catheter in , which gives rise to central line associated blood stream infections (CLABSI). The incidence of CLABSI is closely monitored at Corniche Hospital, and the neonatal team with the support of hospital management have worked very hard to reduce the incidence of CLABSI on NICU. As of mid-September 2022!, NICU achieved 262 days without CLABSI which is the longest on record.

Risk factors for premature delivery

The known risk factors for premature delivery include having a previous premature birth, pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples, an interval of less than six months between pregnancies, conceiving through in vitro fertilisation, problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta, smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs, some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract, some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, being underweight or overweight before pregnancy, stressful life events, multiple miscarriages or abortion, physical injury or trauma.


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