1,517 infants admitted to NICU in 2018; Lowest number in six years

1,517 infants admitted to NICU in 2018; Lowest number in six years

There was a 27% drop in the number of babies who needed intensive care treatment at the National Maternity Hospital last year.

The hospital's annual report shows 1,517 infants were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in 2018.

That is the lowest number of admissions since 2012.

The fall is being attributed to the introduction of a new system of early identification of infants at risk of infection.

“This remarkable reduction shows the importance of constantly reviewing work practices and introducing changes as a result”, according to Dr Claudine Vavasseur, Director of Neonatal Intensive Care.

“It reduces the incidence of separation of infants from their mothers, facilitating bonding and breast-feeding, as well as saving staff time."

The unit cared for 121 infants weighing less than 3lbs in 2018.

In all, the NICU provided 1,403 days of “Intensive Care” and 2,916 days of “High Dependency Care”.

Infection was previously the leading reason for admission but this has now dropped to fourth place behind respiratory, gastroenterology and problems of prematurity.

Approximately 5% of infants admitted were born at less than 28 weeks, with the lowest gestational age baby admitted being born at just 23 weeks and the lowest birth weight of less than 500g.

“With advances in neonatal intensive care treatment, we are increasing the survival rate and prognosis for very pre-term babies”, continued Dr Claudine Vavasseur.

“We are very pleased with the advances at the Hospital and also in the wider neonatal community to improve the quality of life for these vulnerable babies and their families.”

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