DiversityNursing Blog

Crocheted Octopus Dolls Helping Preemies Thrive

Posted by Pat Magrath

Mon, Mar 06, 2017 @ 11:44 AM

octopuses-for-premies-1-tease-today-170208_029cc7ee69d2eaefb9b3bd943944b746.today-inline-large.jpgDo you or someone you know, love to knit or crochet? Perhaps you’d be interested in putting those skills to work for a terrific cause. 
 
Check out what they’re doing in England and other parts of the world to help preemies thrive. By crocheting an octopus and giving it to the little one, the baby has something soft to hang on to and is comforted. The baby is less apt to pull out their tubes too. The crocheted octopus represents something familiar, comforting and soft. 
 
How sweet is that, that something so simple can help a little one survive?

One hospital in Dorset, England has stumbled upon an unusual way of making tiny premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) feel safe and comforted: by giving them a tiny handmade octopus to curl up with.

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According to Poole Hospital, where the practice of pairing preemies with crocheted cephalopods has become an ongoing ritual, these cuddly crafts do more than just calm the babies.

The idea originally hails from Denmark where Aarhus University Hospital has suggested that the creatures can actually help smaller babies grow and thrive. A spokesperson for Poole hospital stated that the decision to introduce the crocheted crafts to patients wasn’t based on published scientific research but contact with other hospitals who had found they made a noticeable difference to their little patients.

But it can't be just any toy. It must be an octopus.

So why these sea creatures exactly? The design of the crocheted tentacles gives the babies something to hold and squeeze, and that can be a good thing for regulating everything from oxygen intake to heartbeats. What's more, the tentacles might be helpful at keeping the tiny patients from pulling out their tubes.

A number of babies at Poole Hospital took to their new toys especially well. In a feature that in the Daily Echo last fall, it was revealed that premature twin sisters Jasmine and Amber Smith-Leach both benefited from the comfort of their new toys. Their neonatal nurses said they have no doubt these tiny octopuses have helped the girls.

What's more, in response to the story, the hospital's NICU has received a whole new supply of crocheted octopuses for future patients.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the kind response to our appeal for crochet octopi,” said Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services. “We’ve now received over 200 octopi and have a year’s supply ready and waiting for our little patients! We’re not looking for anymore octopi for a little while so we can use these up.”

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the kind response to our appeal for crochet octopi,” said Daniel Lockyer, matron of neonatal services. “We’ve now received over 200 octopi and have a year’s supply ready and waiting for our little patients! We’re not looking for anymore octopi for a little while so we can use these up.”

Find the Octopus Pattern on our Pinterest!

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Topics: Preemies, Premature Babies

Preemies May Have Higher Risk of Blood Clots, Even as Adults

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 28, 2014 @ 12:56 PM

By: Healthday

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Odds are small, but family, doctors should keep possibility in mind, researchers say.

Babies born prematurely appear to have a slightly increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots that they will carry into adulthood, Swedish researchers report.

Doctors have previously suspected that babies born earlier than 37 weeks' gestation have a raised risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, two serious conditions caused by blood clotting in the veins, the researchers noted in background information.

This new study confirms that link, and takes it even further. Premature birth appears to be linked to an increased chance of blood clots in the veins in childhood and early adulthood, according to findings published online July 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers also reported that a baby's chances of blood clot-related illnesses are directly related to the degree of prematurity. "The more premature, the higher the risk," said Dr. Edward McCabe, chief medical officer of the March of Dimes. A full-term pregnancy lasts from 39 to 40 weeks.

While parents and doctors should keep this risk in mind, they should also be aware that the risk is not huge, said Dr. Kristi Watterberg, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on the fetus and newborn. Watterberg and McCabe were not involved with the study.

The association between premature birth and clot risk seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study involved 3.5 million babies born in Sweden between 1973 and 2008, including almost 207,000 born preterm. Out of all the births, only about 7,500 children -- 0.2 percent -- suffered either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism later in life.

"I think it's important scientifically to know, but it's such a low incidence phenomenon that there are a lot of things to think about before that," said Watterberg, a professor of pediatrics and neonatology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

Deep vein thrombosis involves blood clots that form in a vein deep in the body. If these clots aren't treated and dissolved, they can break off and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a blockage called a pulmonary embolism. Such a blockage can be deadly.

For the study, Dr. Bengt Zoller, of the Center for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University in Malmo, Sweden, and colleagues used records from the Swedish Birth Registry to track the babies' health. The researchers found that premature babies had an increased risk of blood clots in their veins in infancy, but also from ages 1 to 5 and from 18 to 38.

Very preterm births -- before 34 weeks of gestation -- also had a risk of blood clot-related illness in adolescence, from age 13 to 17.

Boys had an increased risk of blood clots in infancy, while girls were more likely to carry the risk into adolescence and adulthood, the study authors reported.

No one knows why this increased risk exists, but it could be due to genetic factors that caused the mother to deliver prematurely in the first place, Watterberg and McCabe said.

Diseases such as diabetes, thyroid problems and obesity are genetic in nature and can cause preterm delivery, McCabe said.

Also, some mothers who suffer a genetic deficiency in a key protein that controls blood clotting may be predisposed to give birth prematurely, Watterberg said.

"It may be that maternal genetics are a setup for preterm delivery, and those problems are passed along to the infant," she said.

The mother's wellness and lifestyle also play a role in a baby's lifelong health, and could influence their risk of blood clots, McCabe said.

Finally, this link might arise because the babies are born prematurely, and are robbed of maternal hormones and nutrition in the womb that could have decreased their future risk of blood clots.

"We are not as good at getting nutrition into those babies as the mother and placenta are, and we do know that hormones have something to do with the predisposition to clotting," Watterberg said. "It makes sense to me you'd have changes in those long-term outcomes as well."

In any case, it is something for the family and doctor of a person born prematurely to keep in mind, McCabe said.

"If a patient has a history of preterm birth, and the more preterm, the more attention it needs to have," he said. "It helps us be better prepared. If a patient comes in with unusual findings, this provides us some clue."

Source: http://healthfinder.gov

Topics: premature birth, researchers, Preemies, blood clots, childhood, adulthood, patient

Dear NICU Nurse

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 @ 10:58 AM

Dear NICU Nurse,

To be honest, I never knew you existed. Back when our birth plan included a fat baby, balloons and a two-day celebratory hospital stay, I had never seen you. I had never seen a NICU. Most of the world hasn't. There may have been a brief, "This is the Neonatal floor" whilst drudging by on a hospital tour. But no one really knows what happens behind those alarm-secured, no-window-gazing doors of the NICU. Except me. And you.

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I didn't know that you would be the one to hold and rock my baby when I wasn't there. I didn't know that you would be the one to take care of him the first five months of his life as I sat bedside, watching and wishing that I was you. I didn't know that you would be the one to hand him to me for the first time, three weeks after he was born. That you would know his signals, his faces, and his cries. Sometimes better than me. I didn't know you. I didn't know how intertwined our lives would become.

I know you now. I'll never be able to think of my child's life without thinking of you.

I know that in the NICU, you really run things. That your opinions about my baby's care often dictates the course and direction or treatment as you consult with the neonatologist every day. I know that you don't hesitate to wake a sometimes-sleeping doctor in the nearby call room because my baby's blood gas number is bad. Or because his color is off. Or because he has had four bradys in the last 45 minutes. Or because there's residual brown gunk in his OG tube.

I know now that you are different from other nurses.

I know that, at times, you are assigned to just one baby for 12 hours straight. You are assigned to him because he is the most critically-sick and medically fragile baby in the unit. I've seen you sit by that baby's bedside for your entire shift. Working tirelessly to get him comfortable and stable. Forgoing breaks while you mentally will his numbers to improve. I've seen you cry with his family when he doesn't make it. I've seen you cry alone.

I've seen you, in an instant, come together as a team when chaos ensues. And let's be honest, chaos and NICU are interchangeable words. When the beeper goes off signaling emergency 24-weeker triplets are incoming. When three babies in the same pod are crashing at the same time. When the power goes off and you're working from generators. In those all too often chaotic moments, you know that time is more critical in this unit than any other, and you don't waste it. You bond together instantly as a team, methodically resolving the crisis until the normal NICU rhythm is restored.

Yes. I know you now. I'll never be able to give in return what you have given to me. Thank you for answering my endless questions, even when I had asked them before. Thank you for your skill; you are pretty great at what you do. Thank you for fighting for my baby. Thank you for pretending like it was normal when I handed you a vial of just pumped breast milk. Thank you for agreeing to play Beatles lullabies in my baby's crib when I was gone. Thank you for waking the doctor. Thank you for texting me pictures of my sweet miracle, even when it was against hospital policy. Thank you for crying with me on the day we were discharged.

Most of the world still doesn't know what you do. They can't understand how integral you are to the positive outcomes of these babies who started life so critically ill. But I do. I know you now. I will never forget you. In fact, our story can never be told without mentioning you. So the next time you wave your access card to enter the place that few eyes have seen, know that you are appreciated. I know you, and you are pretty amazing.

Your fan forever,

A NICU mom

This post originally appeared on Preemie Babies 101  

Source: Huffington Post 

Topics: Dear Nicu Nurse, Neonatal Intensive Care, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, New Mother, Nicu Nurse, Nicu Nurses, Moms, Preemie, Preemie Babies, Preemies, Premature Babies, Parents News, NICU

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