According to the data collected by the SIN – Italian Society of Neonatology on the occasion of the World Day of the Premature Baby, which occurs annually on November 17, in Italy over 30,000 premature babies are born every year (7% of the total of newborns), i.e. babies who come into the world before the 37th week of pregnancy (according to the source CeDAP 2017 ). The report on Births and Covid-19 also highlighted that pregnant mothers who have contracted Sars-Cov-2 are associated with higher numbers of premature births, with 19.7% of preterm births, as emerged from the National Covid-19 Register. established by the Italian Society of Neonatology (data as of 27 July 2020). Being premature today however, it means having access to many possibilities, strongly desired not only by the SIN but also by the doctors who, every day, work in neonatal intensive care. We take stock of the situation, available therapies and scenarios for premature babies.
For the World Prematurity Day of 17 November 2020, the SIN took stock of the situation and rights of the premature baby during the conference “The projects of the SIN advance”. And he presented data and projects that, in the short and long term, will have to reduce the differences in care and procedures in Neonatal Intensive Care but also support mothers who give birth in times of pandemic so that they are not separated from the child in the event of preterm birth. .
Why mothers and premature babies shouldn’t be separated (not even in the Covid-19 era)
According to the President of the Italian Society of Neonatology (SIN) Fabio Mosca “Intensive care aimed at ensuring survival in preterm infants, at supporting ventilation, at ensuring the nutritional supply in the most adequate way, at protecting against infections, are no longer enough: it is our specific commitment to protect the mother-child relationship and attachment and parenthood “. In an era of procedures related to containment for the spread of Covid-19 in fact, according to Fabio Mosca” hospitalization in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) involves the risk of separation between the parent and the child. “For this reason one of the necessary scenarios is that of” Zero separation “, which guarantees parent-newborn closeness, even if the difficult period does not help.
Together with Vivere Onlus Coordination of Parent Associations, SIN has supported, since the beginning of the pandemic, the Neonatal Intensive Care Departments in Italy to push on the need not to give up skin-to-skin contact, always in compliance with safety regulations for Covid-19.
The benefits of the pouch therapy or Kangaroo Therapy on the premature baby
Science and its evidence document that there are no greater benefits than those coming from Kangaroo Mother Care, Kangaroo Therapy, on development and attachment between parents and premature babies. This is because early separation, not only in the Covid-19 era, brings stress to the child, as well as negative effects in the short and long term also on the mother.
According to Fabio Mosca “Supporting the closeness of parents to the newborn means recognizing their role not as visitors, but as healing ability. With an early involvement of the family, those emotional connections that are fundamental for the child’s neuro-cognitive development are strengthened and positive effects are determined on the outcome of neuro-behavioral health at a distance. “But it is not just a question of child development: above all we are talking about bonds. affective necessary, not only for the child but also for mothers and fathers. This is because, again according to Mosca, “the establishment of an early relational bond favors acceptance of difficulties present in the hospitalized child and helps to create the basis for increasing confidence in their parenting abilities “.
The three fundamental elements of this therapy for premature babies are therefore:
- skin-to-skin contact
- constant presence of parents in the NICU
- “Zero Separation” Protocol
- Kangaroo Therapy
The “Zero separation” procedure, promoted by EFCNI – European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants and supported by SIN, should become the main approach in the first moments of life between mothers and premature babies to standardize procedures.
Standardization of hospital procedures in TIN is necessary
The list of “Standards of Care” of the EFCNI European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants translated into Italian by SIN and Vivere Onlus, created with the aim of making uniform procedures for the reception and care of premature babies. A project that brings together 220 professionals including parents’ representatives and medical-scientific specialists from more than 30 countries. What are the objectives of these standards?
- Reduce the differences in the various areas of the country, so as to standardize procedures
- Making standards more accessible through translation
- Ensure equal care and treatment for all premature babies
Precisely this flexibility in access to care and assistance will help premature babies overcome initial difficulties, circumvent the risk of serious diseases and risk factors related to preterm birth. So, being premature today is not a disadvantage, but a starting point for a full, happy and healthy life.