Not many years ago, if a baby born at 28 weeks gestation survived, it was considered a bit of a medical miracle. Today babies born at 25 weeks and weighing as little as 700 grams have high chances of survival.
"Now when we see a 28-week old baby, we just smile," says Robert E. Kimura, MD, section head of neonatology and associate dean of medical sciences at Rush. "The outlook is so much better now. We've made incredible leaps in our understanding as well as with the technology. This is thanks to a lot of really smart people who have put a lot of energy into research to help keep these babies alive."
A baby is considered premature or preterm if it's born before 37 weeks. The vast majority of these babies go on to lead healthy happy lives. "And we continue to make strides with medical research and technology," says Kimura. "Specialized NICUs are making a big difference, too."
Rush's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), for example, offers the full spectrum of medical and surgical care for infants born here or for those transferred from other hospitals. In fact, Rush Children's Hospital is one of two hospitals in the Chicago area with a board-certified neonatologist in-house 24 hours a day with immediate availability for consultations and referrals.
"There are even some times when we are able to intervene in the womb, if we find a problem," says Kimura. "Ultrasound is a great help in this area. If we do see something before the baby is born, we can gear everyone up to be ready to do the best we can to deal with whatever we are facing."
"At Rush, we have created a program to assist families with the news of having a baby with a major anomaly," says Kimura. The Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Program program has had a huge impact for people who would otherwise have been on there own to deal with very overwhelming emotional issues on top of complex medical issues.
"We empower parents from the get go," says Kimura. "At Rush, we have parents participate with us. We see them as a very important part of the team. Having the parents as active participants is better for the baby and the whole family. We don't want them to have that helpless feeling that their baby is being taken away from them."
"You can't imagine the satisfaction when things work out well and another baby gets to go home with his or her family," Kimura says.
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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