New tool to help premature babies
PHILADELPHIA - May 2, 2010 (WPVI) -- For premature babies, growing up to be healthy and strong starts in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.
Now, local NICU nurses have an updated tool to better measure babies' progress.
"Our goal in the NICU is to get these kids growing as fast as they were in utero once they're in the NICU," said Dr. Irene Olsen of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
Babies in the NICU are weighed and measured with every bit of growth recorded. The details are plotted on the growth curves, which helps determine how to manage their feedings.
However, the growth curve charts needed an update.
"The Lubchenco Curves that are often used in the NICU today are based on data from the 40's to the 60's. They are based on about 5,000 white infants from the Denver area. So that's so of their limitations," Dr. Olsen said.
So Dr. Olsen and her team crunched numbers from a giant cross-country database and came up a new set of curves that reflect a more modern-day American baby.
"We found that the difference between the size of our males and females was enough to justify a gender specific set of curves. So we've got three curves for girls and three curves for boys," she said.
Doctor Olsen's new growth curves were published in the journal Pediatrics. She hopes to see them used in NICU's nationwide.
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