"The impairments that are suffered by these children are costly in many ways," explained Dr. Lester. "There is significant emotional cost to the children themselves, their parents and families, including coping with continuous fear and the possibility of crises associated with the infant's unpredictable medical course, extended hospitalizations, and uncertain neurodevelopmental and quality of life outcomes. In addition, time lost from work and other family activities combine to create an enormous burden on the family, their community, support networks, and society in general."
Over a five year period, Dr. Lester and his team will study approximately 1,000 babies born less than 30 weeks gestation at six sites across the country, including at Women & Infants Hospital. These babies will be tested with the NNNS just before discharge from the NICU and then given a series of developmental tests when they are approximately two and one-half years old.
Dr. Lester said, "We will use information about the infants' medical problems and profiles on the NNNS to predict which infants will be developmentally impaired at two and one-half years. If our predictions are accurate, we will be able to use our findings to help early intervention and follow-up programs in their care plans for the baby and to help counseling parents when the baby is discharged from the NICU. Parenting is a key factor in helping babies recover, so parenting will be a critical part of the intervention."
"The long term goal here is prevention," Dr. Lester continued. "If we can identify infants at greatest risk, then we can target interventions to reduce or eliminate later deficits, reduce the pool of infants who need services to only those at greatest risk, and effectively allocate limited resources."
|Contact: Amy Blustein|
Women & Infants Hospital