Neonatal intensive care units critical to infant survival

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Sept. 1, 2010 — Very low birthweight and very preterm infants are more likely to die if they are not born at hospitals with neonatal intensive care units specially equipped to care for seriously ill newborns, in contrast to sim…

Oxytocin: It’s a mom and pop thing

Philadelphia, PA, 20 August, 2010 – The hormone oxytocin has come under intensive study in light of emerging evidence that its release contributes to the social bonding that occurs between lovers, friends, and colleagues. Oxytocin also plays an impo…

Surrogate mothers have no doubts about handing over the baby

Surrogate mothers do not suffer major emotional problems during or after their pregnancy, or when they hand over the baby to the commissioning parents, researchers told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology today. The latest results from a long-running study into surrogacy by researchers from City University, UK, led by Professor Susan Golombok, found that, contrary to anecdotal reports in the media, none of the 34 surrogate mothers interviewed for the study reported any misgivings about handing over the baby. Any emotional problems that the women did experience after the birth appeared to lessen with time. The majority of surrogate mothers enjoyed good relations with their commissioning couples and did not suffer adverse reactions from their own friends and family.

Prematurity, infections most likely causes of brain damage among infants

The most likely causes of brain damage among low birthweight infants are prematurity and infections, not oxygen starvation, a Johns Hopkins study has found. Studying 213 babies born weighing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces, the researchers noted that the smaller the infants were at birth and the less time they spent in the womb, the more likely they were to have some form of brain damage. Babies born with infections were more likely than those without infections to have brain complications. The report is published in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Key to baby-soft skin could be cheesy

For nine months before birth, infants soak in a watery, urine-filled environment. Just hours after birth, however, they have near-perfect skin. How is it that nature enables infants to develop ideal skin in such seemingly unsuitable surroundings? A new study by researchers at the Skin Sciences Institute of Cincinnati Children?s Hospital Medical Center shows that the answer may be vernix — the white, cheesy substance that coats infants for weeks before they are born, then is wiped off and discarded immediately after birth. If they?re right, the healthcare implications for newborns and adults could be remarkable.

Premature Infants Have Smaller Brains; Do They Normalize Over Time?

The brains of premature infants are smaller than those of full-term babies, even when measured at the same developmental stage after birth, according to recent studies of brain images at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Woman’s Hospital.
A number of recent studies have associated educational disadvantages with low birth weight, a hallmark of premature delivery. This deficiency continues into adulthood.
One surprising report that came out in 2000 showed that newborns weighing less than 5.5 pounds are nearly four times more likely to drop out of high school by age 19 than siblings born in the normal weight range. The study did not examine physiological differences.

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