Vim & Vigor - Summer 2014 - University of Virginia - (Page 54)

By Melanie Dick Expecting the Unexpected Choosing a hospital that is prepared for the unknown can be the best choice for expectant parents Special Care for Newborns Across the U.S., 10 to 15 percent of babies (roughly half a million) end up in the NICU. In Virginia, one in eight is born prematurely. UVA is the region's largest and most advanced NICU and is one of the few hospitals in Virginia to offer pediatric heart surgery for congenital heart disease. UVA also offers extracorporeal membrane oxygenation to support heart and lung function in infants who have heart-lung failure. W hen Jennifer Stover and husband Michael Lance of Charlottesville found out they were having twins, they knew there were certain factors that put them in the "high-risk" category. "Since Jennifer was over 40 and carrying twins, she was considered high-risk from the get-go," Lance says. "We knew the twins would need to be monitored closely, and we wanted to be prepared just in case anything happened. That's why we chose UVA." "Just in case" turned into reality when Stover developed a rare condition called cholestasis of pregnancy that would jeopardize the twins' health until they were born. With this condition, the flow of bile from the liver becomes blocked and leaks into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stillbirth as the end of the third trimester approaches. Stover was scheduled for a cesarean section at 36 weeks and received weekly ultrasounds leading up to delivery. When the twins were born, there were more unexpected events. With his wife recovering from surgery and his newborn sons whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Lance, a first-time father, found out just how quickly things can happen. "In the amount of time it took us to ride the elevator down one floor, the nurses noticed that Abbott was having trouble breathing," Lance says. "That's when it really clicked. Deciding to have our twins at a hospital with an advanced NICU was the best thing we could have done." NOT JUST FOR PREEMIES Although Abbott and Rinker were technically considered premature (babies born before 37 weeks gestation are considered preterm) 54 Su m m e r 2 014 this wasn't the cause for their needing care in the NICU. "Many people associate the NICU with premature birth, but half of the newborns in our NICU are not born prematurely," says Robert A. Sinkin, MD, MPH, head of neonatology at UVA Children's Hospital. "There are many common newborn conditions that require care in an advanced NICU, and a large number of the newborns we treat are delivered at facilities that just don't have the resources, both personnel and equipment, to care for them." Some of the most common newborn conditions treated in the NICU include: Meconium aspiration syndrome. This is caused when the newborn inhales fluid that may partially or completely block the airways and lead to severe respiratory distress. Cyanosis. This refers to the blue or purple appearance of the skin due to low oxygen levels. In a newborn, cyanosis may be due to a congenital heart defect. Jaundice. This yellow appearance of the skin is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin, a byproduct of red blood cells. Severe jaundice, if untreated, can cause serious health problems, including irreversible brain damage. Heart murmur. The turbulent sound of blood pumping through the heart and blood vessels is called a murmur. Many are insignificant; however, some may indicate an abnormal heart structure that needs further investigation. It is important that newborns with such findings be monitored closely to rule out the possibility of a life-threatening defect requiring urgent intervention with medication or surgery. At UVA Children's Hospital, NICU doctors work closely with specialists from the UVA Children's Heart Center to evaluate newborn heart murmurs and provide fast, advanced treatment. >

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Summer 2014 - University of Virginia

Vim & Vigor - Summer 2014 - University of Virginia
Life in Balance
A Peanut a Day to Keep Allergies at Bay?
Close Watch on a Young Brain
Stress SOS
The Truth About Sunscreen
The Transformers
Get Your Head in the Game
The Journey Continues
On the Cover
The Foot Follies
Friendly Fat
Virtual Health
Finding a Way Out of Grief
Deep Impact
Expecting the Unexpected

Vim & Vigor - Summer 2014 - University of Virginia