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New Guidelines Released for Care of Late Preterm Infants

At-risk group is often underserved, association says (Nov. 15)

The National Perinatal Association (NPA), based in Binghamton, N.Y., has announced the release of multidisciplinary guidelines for the care of late preterm infants — an often underserved and yet at-risk group, according to the association.

Developed in collaboration with healthcare professionals and organizations, the guidelines address care from the in-hospital setting immediately after birth, through the transition to home, and beyond.

Of the 500,000 babies born prematurely each year, 75% are late preterm infants born between 34 and 36 weeks. Because these babies often look and seem normal — at least at first — much less attention is focused on this group than on babies born more prematurely.

In the guidelines’ introduction, Alan R. Spitzer, MD, states: “Because the appearance of these infants so closely resembles the full term infant, and because the practice of neonatal medicine has improved so dramatically, the late preterm infant has often been erroneously viewed as merely a slightly smaller version of the term infant, with a similarly modest set of potential problems. The past decade, however, has revealed this assessment to be far from the truth, and the late preterm infant has been found to have a constellation of problems that require as much skill and planning as any complex NICU patient.”

In response to increasing awareness of the risks for late preterm infants, the NPA created multidisciplinary guidelines that provide evidence-based recommendations for the care of these babies. The guidelines offer healthcare providers and others a roadmap that focuses attention on the unique needs of late preterm infants from birth through early childhood, helping to ensure that potential health risks aren't overlooked.

The new guidelines are divided into four sections:

  • In-Hospital Assessment and Care
  • Transition to Outpatient Care
  • Short-Term Follow-Up Care
  • Long-Term Follow-Up Care

Source: National Perinatal Association; November 15, 2012.

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