Neonatal nursing in the United States provides services and assistance to millions of women annually. Neonatal nurses serve large numbers of pregnant women in their communities who are in need of treatment and interventions. Babies born prematurely are often born with low birth weight and other health complications.
Although this is not something that happens to all premature infants, it can lead to health problems for these babies in the medium and short term. These problems can occur at birth or in the child’s future life, and can cause some ailments:
- Respiratory complications because their lungs did not develop properly.
- Cardiac problems.
- Interventricular hemorrhages in the brain tissue.
- Problems compensating for heat loss.
To help neonatal nurses treat these conditions, certain technological innovations have been developed to treat these premature infants. Likewise, there are several advances and trends that are now key aspects of neonatal care. Let’s see what they are:
Phototherapy is one of the most common treatments currently used by neonatal nurses in the treatment of jaundice in newborns. In a phototherapy session, the baby is placed in an incubator and bathed in fluorescent light. This causes a change in the baby’s bilirubin, which is discarded in the baby’s stool or urine.
Neonatal nurses expose the baby’s skin for as long as possible to this light, protecting the baby’s eyes. They closely monitor the baby’s feeding, measuring his bilirubin level daily.
This is the name given to the heart rate monitoring system that allows the prediction of possible infections in premature babies 24 hours in advance. It is well known that infections in premature babies are the main cause of mortality for these children.
This system uses an algorithm to detect irregularities in the heartbeat, which may be indicative of a major infection. This allows neonatal doctors and nurses to take corrective measures in time to attack these infections.
The average gestation period of a human being is 40 weeks, but many babies are born at only 26 weeks gestation. The artificial uterus is an important technological innovation for this type of baby and an extraordinary aid for neonatal medicine and nursing.
One of the leading causes of infant mortality is respiratory distress syndrome. Studies conducted by Dr. Mary Ellen Avery at Harvard Medical School determined that the lungs of premature infants do not produce a compound that is important to them.
This chemical compound is a sulfating agent that reduces surface tension. Hence the use of artificial sulfator to prevent RDS in premature infants.
Trends in Neonatal Care
Preterm Births and NICU Admissions
In the U.S., the rate of preterm births at less than 37 weeks gestation has declined in recent years. The infant mortality rate has also decreased, taking into consideration data obtained from the years 2018 to 2021.
A study conducted by Kaiser Permanente Southern California, found that the NICU admission rate has also decreased and that this reduction is not associated with an increase in deaths or readmissions.
More engaged and educated parents in the care of preterm infants lead to more encouraging long-term outcomes. For infants receiving neonatal care, depending on distances and other factors, parents play a critical role in this regard.
The AngelEye Health screening system comes with an app where a camera can be placed at the infant’s bedside, so parents can monitor the infant at any time. It also provides education and resources to the family online.
Intrapartum Ex Utero Treatments
These treatments are most often used for infants who need surgery immediately after birth while they are still attached to the placenta.
These procedures involve the neonatal surgeon operating while the baby remains attached to the umbilical cord because of severe problems after birth that do not allow them to breathe or defend themselves properly in this human life.
In neonatal encephalopathy, body cooling treatment from a neurological perspective has shown significantly better results. This treatment, also known as therapeutic hypothermia, slowly reduces the infants’ body temperature.
This is done by using a cooling blanket, which is filled with water, in which the neonate’s body temperature is slowly reduced in the first 72 hours of life. Subsequently, it is increased again very slowly. The objective of this treatment is to reduce the severity of the brain lesions.
Support for breast milk
Many studies show that the best food for a premature baby is breast milk. But it is often the case that new mothers need support and encouragement to express milk for their babies.
A milk testing system can measure the protein, fat and total carbohydrate content of milk, determining its solids and energy content. This analysis helps determine deficiencies in protein or energy levels in breast milk so that physicians can fortify the milk of premature infants if necessary.
In recent years, there has been much discussion about how to help neonatal nurses achieve better outcomes in the care of premature infants. Advances have been made and trends have emerged that have increased the life expectancy of these infants.
Across the country, neonatal nurses promote preventive education to encourage expectant mothers to lead healthy lives. As time goes on, this also requires a greater increase in qualified neonatal nurses to promote and ensure the well-being and health of these newborns.