High-Risk Pregnancy & Our NICU
Interview of Jonathan D. Weiss, M.D.
Dr. Jonathan Weiss: Okay. My name is Jonathan Weiss. I'm a specialist in high risk pregnancy here at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. When I started here at Alta Bates 20 years ago, babies that were not able to survive at that time today are living very happy, successful lives. The advances that have been made in prenatal care and more so also in the intensive care nursery have allowed us to allow these babies to survive without long-term problems, whereas in the past, these problems would be very commonplace. The intensive care nursery essentially acts as the mother's uterus would act for up to two to three months after a baby is born prematurely. The main problem babies have is that they can't breathe as well as full-term babies and one of the main things in the intensive care nursery is to support the baby's ability to breathe through the use of a variety of modalities. One of the biggest advances has been the use of medicine that we can give the mother that can help the baby's lungs mature faster while the baby is in utero and that has helped large numbers of babies survive and survive without long-term respiratory problems. Doctors in the nursery can also give the baby medicine called surfactant, which is essentially the same medicine the babies normally make at full term to keep their lungs open. And now that we have been able to have that available to us, we can give that to the baby at the time of delivery and it improves their chances of having normal respiratory function after delivery.
One of the other main things that we've seen obviously is the increase in multiple births. Assisted reproductive technology, which incorporates IVF and a variety of other techniques has almost tripled the number of multiple gestations in the past 25 years since the first IVF baby was born in England. And to that end, we're seeing an increased number of premature births because multiple gestations are at greater risk for delivering early. We do see those patients and those are patients that high risk pregnancy specialists are very involved in, in trying to: A, prolong the pregnancy if possible, but if it's not possible to prolong the pregnancy, at least to prepare the pregnancy and the baby for life outside the uterus. Today we are much better at taking care of premature babies than we were in the past.
(Recording Ends)- INTERVIEW CONCLUDED -
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