The Implication of a Rise in Premature Newborns on Neonatal Intensive Care: How Can the Increased Burden Be Managed?

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Tyler McKechnie

Abstract

Since it’s inception around the early 1920s, the domain of neonatal intensive care in a hospital setting grew substantially, becoming an established part of most hospitals in the developed world by the 1970s. Technological advances, such as improved incubators, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and extracorporeal life support (ECLS), have led to its continued growth. The beneficial effects of these neonatal intensive care units (NICU) on newborn health-related outcomes reflect this growth, with a cohort born in 2006 having a 13% greater survival rate than a cohort born in 1995 (Duffin, 2013). Despite such reductions in the rate of adverse health-outcomes, there has been approximately a 40% increase in the number of admissions into NICUs over the same period (Duffin, 2013). Such statistics indicate that there is an increasing burden on neonatal medical teams across the developed world.

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