Special unit mimics mother’s womb
Little Paul Huda came into the world in January weighing just one pound, four ounces. His identical twin brother, Peter, weighed a bit more, at two pounds, three ounces. These tiny “micro-preemies” were among the first patients in the new Small Baby Unit that recently opened at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Park Ridge.
Barbara Huda had an emergency C-section at 27 weeks. Pre-delivery, the babies had been getting in-utero blood transfusions after being diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. That’s where the blood vessels of the babies, who are sharing a placenta, are connected. It puts both babies at risk—one getting too little nutrition, another too much. Despite interventions, the babies came far too early.
“It was absolutely terrifying to hear that my babies were so very small, “says Huda. “I was afraid to see them, but now they are doing so much better.”
The boys’ size and premature arrival make them perfect candidates for the Small Baby Unit. It’s a place where the twins are nestled in an environment much like their mother’s womb.
“The goal is to simulate what the infants would experience if they were to be delivered at full term, “says Dr. Jeffrey George, medical director of neonatology at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “The unit has decreased noise, light, touch and stimulation. Our highly trained, multi-disciplinary team has received extensive training to care for babies delivered at less than 28 weeks (gestation).”
Research has shown that by mimicking the mother’s womb, these babies will have better neurologic development and outcomes. It also improves their survival rates and gives them the best chance to develop normally.
“There are lots of significant health issues these little micro-preemies can develop, such as chronic lung disease, infections and hemorrhages,” says Dr. George. “Because of this new unit, we expect to see a decrease in these abnormalities.”
Small Baby Units are a best practice of the Vermont Oxford Network, a collaborative of health care professionals at some 900 neonatal intensive care units across the world, including Advocate Children’s Hospital.
“There is such comfort in having Peter and Paul in such a quiet and warm place,” says Barbara. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like not to have them here.”
The twins will likely spend the next four months in the hospital.
“It allows these little boys to be in the best environment to thrive,” says Dr. George. “We are partnering with their parents to make sure the babies have the best possible outcomes.”
About the Author
Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!