License Verification Tool | Care of the Extremely Low Birth Weight Neonate
In the United States, there are around 15,000 infants per year born weighing less than 2.2lbs, or 1000g. These babies are classified as extremely low birth weight (ELBW) and require special medical care to ensure survival. Due to their fragile state, ELBW neonates must be managed differently than other newborn infants, especially in regards to their physical and emotional needs. This article will explore the challenges of the care of ELBW neonates, as well as present the experienced based best practices designed to have the best outcomes for these tiny patients.At the most basic level, ELBW babies face more challenges during their first few weeks of life. These babies often experience underdevelopment on both the physical and emotional level, leading to a wide variety of medical ailments such as low blood pressure, breathing problems, difficulty regulating body temperature, and failure to feed. ELBW babies may present with any combination of these issues, and at times can present with complications that are unforeseen and difficult to manage. This is why specialised care and support are critical to the well-being of ELBW babies.The care of an ELBW baby is focused on creating an environment that is safe and secure, providing necessary medical interventions, and enabling full development of the baby’s physical and emotional capacities. An ELBW baby must be closely monitored in order to reduce or prevent any serious health risks. Advice from neonatologists and nurses is invaluable in managing any potential health risks, as they are experienced in providing this level of care, and understand the fragile nature of the baby’s physical and mental development.When it comes to providing support for the baby’s physical needs, proper nutrition is paramount. An ELBW baby will often require specialized feedings, including intravenous nutrition and fortification of other feedings such as expressed breast milk or infant formula. In order to ensure the baby has sufficient nutrition the medical team will monitor their weight, temperature, oxygen saturation levels, and other vital signs and will be ready to make necessary decisions for the baby’s health.Aside from providing medical support, caregivers must also ensure that the ELBW baby?s emotional needs are being met as well. This means providing comfort and soothing in times of distress, while also engaging in stimulating activities, such as reading stories, singing songs, and massaging the baby’s skin. Caregivers should be available to meet these needs 24/7. Additionally, having friends and family members nearby and interacting with the baby can help to boost the baby’s development, as they will recognize the soothing sounds and faces of those they know and love.For parents of ELBW babies, the important part of care is to remain patient and understanding, while also enforcing those boundaries and rules that will promote their baby’s development. This may mean foregoing any unnecessary coddling, and providing a loving and supportive environment. A parent’s presence and encouragement are critical factors in helping to promote the baby’s development and full recovery.Overall, ELBW babies are extremely fragile and require a greater level of care and diligence than a full-term baby. However, with the right level of support and specialized care, these tiny patients have the potential to grow and live a healthy, full life. Healthcare professionals are best suited to provide the medical and emotional support necessary to provide the best outcomes for ELBW neonates.