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HMC provides safe, complete care for premature babies and newborns

HMC provides safe, complete care for premature babies and newborns

QNA
Doha
The health system in Qatar is witnessing great development and progress at all preventive and curative levels, as well as the standards of health care provided to all residents of Qatar, regardless of their age and the type of diseases, thanks to the priority the State gave to this important sector.
In this context, the care of newborns and premature infants receives great attention due to the health problems and difficulties that usually accompany their premature births, whether those related to the health of the mother or those related to the health of the newborns themselves, which are often discovered before they are born.
The Intensive Care Unit for newborns and premature babies and those in charge of it at the Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC) at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are making great efforts to care for this category of newborns, especially since they suffer from many complex health problems when they are born, which include their small sizes, low weight and incomplete growth of all their organs. This results in difficulties in feeding, growth, breathing and others, especially since some of them may have premature birth due to a disability accompanying their pregnancy.
The neonatal intensive care units at Hamad Medical Corporation have made remarkable progress in the care of premature infants that made Qatar at the forefront of countries that recorded the highest level of services to preserve the health of premature infants globally.
In a conversation with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Senior Consultant and Medical Director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at WWRC Dr Mai Abdulla Al Qubaisi said that the newborn and premature babies’ unit at the corporation is considered one of the largest units compared to its counterparts in the Middle East. It accommodates 112 beds or incubators, and annually receives between 2,000 to 2,500 children and newborns, males and females.
She said the unit includes two sections, one for intensive care for premature babies who are born with a gestation period of 24 to 27 weeks, and their weights range from 500 to 800 grams, while the second section is concerned with intensive care for those who are born after more than 28 weeks, knowing that the normal pregnancy period is about 40 weeks or about 280 days.
The general medical definition of a premature baby is a baby born after a uterine gestation period of less than 37 weeks, she pointed out.
Dr Qubaisi stated that the critical period for newborns and premature infants is for those who are born in the 23rd and 24th week.
She described this as the period during which resuscitation becomes possible.
However, she indicated that the process of resuscitating those under 23 weeks of age is sometimes carried out according to certain medical criteria related to the weight of the child and the preparation of the mother for childbirth and delivery with medicines that help her child’s growth and getting rid of infections, as well as the weight of the premature baby.
She added that every growth week that a child born at 23 weeks of age passes increases his or her chances of life and exit from the unit without chronic health problems, with continuous follow-up, adding that the minimum weight of a premature baby in the unit is 480 grams, less than half a kilogram.
Dr Qubaisi said the percentage of safe and stable exit from the neonatal intensive care unit now for premature infants, whose gestation period between is 24 to 28 weeks at WWRC, is much better than in recent years, due to the new technologies used by the unit in terms of devices, medicines, nutrition and other modern medical care methods that are applied.
She indicated that the premature baby will remain in the unit until the time of his natural birth, which was determined for the mother at the beginning of the pregnancy, pointing out that most premature newborn babies who leave the unit after checking on their health do not suffer from chronic or complex health issues, such as difficulties with movement, learning and growth.
With regard to the premature and newborn babies feeding system, Dr Qubaisi said that a premature baby at the age of 34 weeks is fed intravenously, due to the fact that his muscles do not help him suck milk. Milk is given after that in appropriate quantities and at an appropriate age, with preference for mother’s milk to premature infants in particular.
Dr Qubaisi cautioned that most children at the age of less than 34 weeks need technical assistance with regard to breathing through a tube, a mask or with normal oxygen based on the child’s age, growth, weight and disease condition, stressing that the available respirators in this unit is the most modern in the world.
It is also rare to follow up on cases of conjoined premature twins and to take care of their mothers until their birth and before they are separate in Sidra Hospital, Dr Qubaisi said, noting that there is an international programme applied in Qatar to transfer premature infants from one hospital to another, depending on the condition of the child and the availability of the intensive care required for him and the completion of his treatment in the concerned hospital.
She said that the Ministry of Public Health has adopted a comprehensive programme for the integrated assessment process in this regard.
Dr Qubaisi revealed that the unit started giving premature and newborn babies in Qatar, who are less than 34 weeks of age, a drug called surfactant that helps in the growth of the lungs, and thus ease of breathing, and said that it is a new procedure in Qatar that would avoid the use of a breathing device, noting that studies have proven that the more the breathing tube and device are dispensed with, the better the result will be in terms of the child’s growth and chances of survival.
She added, “We also have groups to support families of premature babies, consisting of doctors, social workers, psychological and other functional specialists, and mothers of former premature babies, all of whom help with advice and health guidance. This includes our celebration of the World Prematurity Day, which is observed annually on November 17, in addition to shedding light on the methods of health care to be followed towards this category of premature and newborns.”

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