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Prematurity

Monitoring of Infants Born Premature

Families of infants born very premature are always delighted to get home with their baby or babies. It is a major milestone and means the infants have come through those first worrying weeks or months. 
For some children born early, there can be a risk of longer-term difficulties. These may result from either the early birth and/or from the medical issues and the treatment that has been necessary to keep the babies alive and healthy. As yet, no-one can tell how development will progress for any individual child. 
For this reason, it is important to monitor closely the progress of children who are born very or extremely premature. The Preterm Monitoring Programme at the Champion Centre aims to work with parents over the pre-school years to help children born premature achieve to the best of their abilities.
On leaving NICU, if you have opted to join our monitoring programme, we usually start by meeting with you at the Centre or at home to develop a plan for the first few months. We can meet as often as we all feel is necessary. During these early weeks, we will be working with you to monitor your baby’s movements and look at how he or she is beginning to communicate with you. We also want to make sure that you are feeling all right and that your relationship with your baby or babies is developing well. We will try and answer any questions you might have about prematurity. 
 
When the children reach around four months corrected, we then review the progress they have made. Usually we will see you and your children less often after that. Most children come back the next time at 8 months corrected and then 12 months corrected. However, some children are monitored more closely than this. We will discuss this with you and work out a plan with you. 
 
We keep an eye on all babies born very premature during their early years, because sometimes they can have difficulties later on that we don’t see when they are babies. Usually these will be not be major problems, but might be something that some extra sessions with a physiotherapist or speech and language therapist could help with. Perhaps we might suggest your child comes to the Champion Centre for weekly sessions for a while. If appropriate, we can also refer a child on to the podiatrist or the dietician. Our psychologist can help with behaviour or relationship problems, if they occur. We also have access to a counsellor, who offers counselling for parents, if that is something you would be interested in. 
The team is always available to see you and your child, if you have any concerns, but once your child reaches one year old, the usual pattern of monitoring appointments is at these corrected ages:-
 
12 months 
18 months
2 years
3 years
4 years (not corrected)
 
Normally, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, a speech and language therapist and a psychologist will take part in the assessment. The sessions take from 60-90 minutes. These are the areas of development we will be assessing:-
 
Communication and language skills
Thinking and learning (i.e. cognitive) skills
Fine motor co-ordination 
Gross motor co-ordination
Social skills and behaviour 
 
We will always ask you how you think your children are getting on and if there is anything you are worried about. It is important that you let us know your views. If, when we see your children at the Champion Centre for these assessments, you feel they do not show us all that they can do, please let us know. You are the expert on your child or children and it is important that we all share information and pool our knowledge. After the assessment, we will write a report of our findings for you, for the paediatrician and your GP.
 
Please let us know if you have any other questions about your children or the service. Feel free to pass on any feedback that would help us to improve our services.

 

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