NeonatologyMetroHealth Experts Keep the Tiniest Babies Alive
Jataija Wall was only 12 ounces – the size of a soda can - when she was born. Since graduating from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), she has been blossoming under the care of other MetroHealth specialists.
Today, about 20% of the infants in MetroHealth’s NICU are very-low-birth-weight babies (less than 1,500 grams, or 3.3 pounds), which is a higher percentage than in other area NICUs, said Marc F. Collin, MD, Medical Director of the NICU. “That means we are extremely well-versed in taking care of them.’’
“We receive many transfers in obstetrics that are difficult cases,’’ said Dr. Collin. “The good news is that the babies we get from our high-risk obstetricians are coming from the best care possible.’’
MetroHealth’s perinatologists are highly experienced in managing potential problems which develop during multi-fetal pregnancies as well as the delivery of these infants. In 2011, 1 in 35 babies born at MetroHealth was a twin or multiple born preterm. Currently, about 1 in 50 pregnancies in the U.S. is a twin pregnancy, and the complication rate during pregnancy with twins is about 40%.
“People need to understand that having twins is a high-risk pregnancy,’’ said Brian Mercer, MD, MetroHealth’s new Chairman of OB/GYN and a nationally renowned maternal-fetal medicine researcher.
Generally, women don’t carry twins and multiples for the standard 39 weeks: for twins, it’s 36 weeks; for triplets, 32 weeks; and for quadruplets, 30 weeks. “So carrying more babies means more chance for early delivery of babies not ready to be born,” said Dr. Mercer.
John J. Moore, MD, Chief, MetroHealth’s Division of Neonatology, said that for all infants weighing under 1,500 grams at birth, MetroHealth had among the best outcomes nationally.
For infants weighing 500 to 750 grams, or about 1.1 to 1.6 pounds, MetroHealth had an 80% to 85% survival rate over the past three years. “When I was a resident, the survival in that group of the tiniest babies was about 25%,’’ said Dr. Moore, who has spent 30 years caring for patients in MetroHealth’s NICU.
In addition to care during hospitalization, Dr. Collin noted that NICU physicians follow their babies up to age 2 in MetroHealth’s Special Care Developmental Follow-up Clinic. This allows continued screening of these babies for any developmental issues which are associated with premature or difficult births.