Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) recently held a number of events in observance of World Prematurity Day, celebrated annually every 17 November to raise awareness on preterm birth. Approximately 15 million babies are born preterm each year. 

The HMC Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) care for thousands of babies born prematurely, providing these tiny patients and their families with high-quality specialised care. According to Dr Hilal Al Rifai, Medical Director of the Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC), one in every 10 babies born at HMC was premature.

Between January 2018 and September 2019, our NICU cared for over 4,200 babies born prematurely. Babies who are born prematurely can have a rough start due to the immaturity of their organs and still-developing brain. This predisposes the babies to a lot of risks and complications in their physical health and possible adverse long-term effects or delays in their growth and development. NICU at WWRC provides preterm babies with the best possible care, with care plans tailored to the individual needs of each baby.’

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), preterm babies are babies born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy. These babies are classified as extremely preterm (less than 28 weeks), very preterm (28 to 32 weeks) and moderate to late preterm (32 to 37 weeks).

Dr  Al Rifai said that complications arising from premature birth require careful management.

We provide round-the-clock specialised care that includes placing them in incubators, monitoring their feeding, which can include the use of a feeding tube, replenishing their fluids, and providing treatment for conditions like jaundice.’

Dr Al Rifai added that HMC works with Sidra Medicine in the care of preterm babies who require surgical intervention to treat conditions associated with prematurity. He said that the amount of time a baby spends in the NICU will vary – babies have to meet several milestones before they are discharged.

Staff at NICU work with parents prior to discharge to ensure they are comfortable managing any extra care that their baby requires. A baby is ready to go home once he or she can breathe without support, can maintain a stable body temperature, can breastfeed or bottle-feed, is gaining weight steadily, and is free of infection.’

For more information about the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at HMC, visit their hamad.qa.