Sixty seconds that give premature babies the best start in life

Posted: February 15, 2018

90 per cent of premature births receive life-enhancing treatment

Keeping premature babies attached to their mother for just one extra minute during delivery can dramatically improve the little one's chances of survival.
 
Ninety per cent of all premature arrivals at the Great Western Hospital now benefit from the simple yet significant procedure.
 
This leading performance in delayed cord clamping makes the Swindon hospital one of the best in the world for offering the treatment.

By not cutting the umbilical cord until at least 60 seconds after birth, a baby's risk of developing serious brain bleeds and gut complications is significantly lowered.  

It's just one of a number of positive headlines to have materialised from GWH's Special Care Baby Unit following an ambitious year-long quality improvement drive.
 
The project saw the team focus on ten simple actions, which have been found to have the most positive impact on the health of preterm babies, and apply as many of the interventions as possible to every birth at the hospital.  
 
Dr Sarah Bates, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, said: "Having a premature baby is one of the most testing experiences a parent can go through, but families coming here should feel reassured by the work that's happened over the last 12 months.
 
"Not only have we increased delayed cord clamping from 15 per cent of births to 88 per cent, we've seen really encouraging results in other important areas, such as new-born nutrition.
 
"It's a clear indication that our teams are doing everything they can to ensure all babies receive the best possible start to life."
 
Data from the project revealed the time taken for babies to receive their mother's milk has improved, from more than a day this time last year to just a few hours after birth at the beginning of 2018.
 
It means that mums - many of whom have difficulty expressing milk - can give their little one the essential nutrients they need much quicker than before.
 
A state-of-the-art breast pump, which was donated to SCBU by neonatal charity New Life, has played a massive part in helping the team reduce these crucial waiting times.
 
While the full extent of the project's success remains to be seen, early indications suggest the combined improvements have led to an overall reduction in the number of babies suffering serious brain injury, which ultimately paves the way for an improved quality of life.

Dr Bates said: "I am so proud of the entire team of midwives, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, who all volunteered for this project because of their incredible passion for supporting premature babies at the time when they need it most.
 
"We set out with a very specific aim of what we wanted to achieve and I am just amazed by what has happened in just one year.

"I can't wait to see what else we can do throughout 2018 and beyond."

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