Stories about: newborns

A once in a lifetime opportunity: Vaccination at birth

Baby Newborn and NurseNewborn babies can’t be immunized against most diseases because they’re unable to mount effective immune responses to most vaccines. Instead, pediatric vaccines are given at two, four and six months of age, when the immune system is more responsive. But that leaves newborns—with undeveloped immune systems—highly vulnerable to severe infections. Worldwide, more than two million newborns and infants under six months of age die from infectious diseases every year.

Ofer Levy, MD, PhD, in the Division of Infectious Diseases, wants to change that by developing vaccines that will work in babies. He’s been studying how to enhance the immune system at birth so that newborns can respond to vaccines effectively. On Friday, the researcher received a $2.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop vaccines for newborns.

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Preemies' pain threshold lower than previously thought

Baby in NICUMore than four million babies are born in the United States every year. Of those, 13 percent will be born prematurely. For these infants, their time spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is critical to the future of their well-being.

A recent study finds that routine tests performed on infants in the NICU can increase their pain response. It was once believed that newborns don’t feel pain from routine tests. However, some infants undergo many of these routine tests daily and this study shows that “repeated exposure to pain and stress early in life may have lasting effects, including increased pain sensitivity later in life,” according to Reuters.

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A gentler breath of fresh air for premature babies

Maggie.070709-1Nearly 13 percent of U.S. babies are born prematurely, according to a recent report from the March of Dimes. These babies face a host of health problems – including taking their first breath, which for a premature newborn can be difficult if not impossible. Preemies are frequently placed on ventilators to pump oxygen into their tiny, immature lungs, but this treatment is often part of the problem: the constant air pressure from the ventilators can cause inflammation and lead to chronic lung disease. Now, however, there’s an alternative.

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