Neonatal intensive care practices harmful to the developing brain
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- Chaudhari, S. Indian Pediatr (2011) 48: 437. doi:10.1007/s13312-011-0071-4
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There has been a marked increase in the survival of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, but these babies have a long stay in the NICU. Strategies to decrease their neurodevelopmental impairment become very important. The maximum development of the brain occurs between 29–41 weeks. From the warm, dark, acquatic econiche, where the baby hears pleasant sounds like the mother’s heart beat, the baby suddenly finds itself in the dry, cold, excessively bright, noisy, environment of the NICU. Noise, bright light, painful procedures, and ill-timed caregiving activities, adversely affect the infant’s development. Excessive radiation from X-rays of babies on the ventilator and CT scans also affect the brain. Medications like steroids for chronic lung disease also cause damage to the brain. Aminoglycides and frusemide are known to cause hearing impairment. Hence a developmentally supportive, humanized care will go a long way in enhancing the developmental outcome of these babies.