HSA offers free screenings for preterm babies

| 17/11/2017
CNS Local Life

Wilmer and Elle Carcamo with their son, who was born prematurely

(CNS Local Life): As part of the Health Services Authority’s (HSA) commemoration of World Prematurity Day today (17 November) it is offering free developmental checks for all preterm babies born before 34 weeks, and who are not yet 18 months old and not receiving regular therapy. The purpose of the global initiative is to raise awareness for preterm babies – the largest child patient group – and their families. One in 10 babies worldwide is born preterm, before 37 weeks.

To support and bring awareness to the importance of early intervention for pre-term babies, speech and language pathologist Faith Gealey, paediatric physiotherapist Maggie Tomlin and occupational therapist Rosemary North will be providing free screenings on Monday, 20 November from 10-12pm and 1-3pm at the Hibiscus Conference Room at Cayman Islands Hospital.

Prior to the screening, paediatrician and neonatologist Dr Sara Watkin will make a presentation from 9am-10am. Members of the public are invited.

“Our goal with these screenings is to target premature babies in the community who are not receiving any intervention and assess them holistically as a multidisciplinary team,” Gealey said in an HSA press release. “This process not only can help parents understand how their child is developing but also helps us as clinicians to be aware of the current needs in the community so that we can plan our services effectively.” To book an appointment, individuals should email Gealey.

According to the World Health Organisation, “Premature birth is a very serious health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities.”

Regular and early physiotherapy intervention is critical to improve the developmental outcomes of preterm infants since they are at greater risk for neurodevelopmental delays and disabilities than full-term infants.

“Premature babies are at a high risk for developmental difficulties simply because they have not had as much time in the womb to develop their bodies and their brains,” Gealey added. “Very often people think of babies and can’t imagine that there is a need for any type of therapeutic intervention, however, early monitoring and intervention is the key element in ensuring that premature babies develop adequately. When it comes to premature babies, prevention is always better than the cure.”

World Prematurity Day flyer

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Category: Medical and Health

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