Neonatal Services

Specializing Institutions

Neonatal healthcare refers to the provision of medical care for newborns up to 28 days after birth. There are three levels in neonatal care. Level I consists of caring for healthy newborns. Level II provides intermediate or special care for premature or ill newborns. Infants at this level may need special therapy, or simply need more time before being discharged. Level III, or neonatal intensive care, treats newborns that cannot be treated in the other levels and are in need of advanced technology to survive. Common diagnoses and pathologies treated in Level III include anemia, apnea, respiratory distress syndrome, hydrocephalus and more.

One of the most common issues with newborns is premature birth. The normal gestation period for humans is about 40 weeks. Any birth that happens before the due date, or before 37 weeks, is defined as a premature birth. The most common reasons for premature birth are a ruptured amniotic sac, a weak cervix, abnormalities in the uterus, diabetes, high blood pressure and poor nutrition.

The institutions and physicians at the South Texas Medical Center are at the forefront of care for newborns with critical or special needs. Not only can patients benefit from exceptional service and a safe environment during delivery, they can also take advantage of the family-centered approach the institutions at the South Texas Medical Center provide.

Neonatal Articles

  • Uptick seen in U.S. breast-feeding rates

    By David Beasley

    ATLANTA (Reuters) - Breast-feeding rates are rising among U.S. newborns, but most mothers still wean their babies earlier than experts recommend, federal health officials said on Thursday.

    Some 79 percent of newborns were breast-fed in 2011, up 2 percentage points from the year before, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual Breastfeeding Report Card.

    That number dipped to 49 percent of babies after six months and 27 percent after a year, numbers unchanged from 2010.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast-feeding infants for at least a year and the World Health Organization recommends two years.

    Western states such as Washington, Oregon and California had the highest newborn breast-feeding rates, exceeding 90 percent.

    Some of the lowest rates, in the mid 50-percent range, were in the Deep South. In Louisiana, 56 percent of newborns were breast-fed, with 30 percent still nursing after six months.

    Help is increasingly available to mothers who want to breast-feed, the CDC report stated, with the number of health professionals specializing in lactation almost doubling between 2006 and 2013.

    Allowing babies to have "skin to skin" contact with their mothers immediately after birth and to remain in the hospital room with them encourages breast-feeding, the CDC said.

    Hospitals in the western United States allow infants to room with their mothers at twice the rate of hospitals in the Midwest and South, the CDC said.

    For the first six months of life, breast milk alone is an adequate diet for infants, according to the CDC.

    SOURCE: CDC Breastfeeding Report Card 2014, online July 31, 2014.

  • Whooping cough vaccine safe for pregnant women

    By Madeline Kennedy

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Pregnant women in their third trimester can safely receive the whooping cough vaccine to prevent infections in newborns, a recent study from the UK suggests.

    Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious disease. Its symptoms are initially mild but it can lead to serious and fatal complications, particularly for children under three months old.

    Recent increases in whooping cough infections, some resulting in deaths of newborns, prompted the UK to develop a new vaccine program in 2012. The program offered combined vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis and polio to over 700,000 women in the third trimester of pregnancy.

    "The benefit of maternal immunization is that the mother's protective antibodies are passed on to the baby before it is born, giving it the best protection it needs before they are old enough to be vaccinated themselves," Philip Bryan told Reuters Health in an email.

    He worked on the study at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in London.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women are vaccinated against whooping cough, but the World Health Organization stated in a 2010 paper that there is not sufficient evidence to recommend the vaccine to pregnant women.

    The MHRA sought to add to this body of evidence and ensure the UK vaccine program was safe. Bryan said the new study "is the largest review to date of the safety of whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination in pregnancy."

    The researchers analyzed data on 20,074 pregnant women who were vaccinated against whooping cough beginning in late 2012.

    Compared to country-wide estimates, there was no increased risk of stillbirth among vaccinated women. Their pregnancies resulted in five stillbirths in the two weeks following vaccination, while the existing data would predict about seven stillbirths in the same time frame. The pattern held true later in pregnancy as well.

    Bryan and his colleagues also compared the vaccinated women to a group of similar but unvaccinated pregnant women from the previous two years.

    That analysis suggested there was no increase in other pregnancy risks after vaccination either, including death of the mother or baby, pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, C-section delivery or low birth weight. In addition, the vaccine had no effect on the length of pregnancy, according to findings published in The BMJ.

    In the U.S., the CDC recommends infants get vaccinated against pertussis initially at ages two, four and six months as part of a combined vaccine that also protects against diphtheria and tetanus called DTaP.

    There is a significant advantage to administering the pertussis vaccine to pregnant women in addition to vaccinating infants, according to Dr. Eugene Shapiro, from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He wrote an editorial published with the new study.

    "With the current schedule, the three doses are not complete until six months," a time during which children are particularly vulnerable to the infection, Shapiro told Reuters Health.

    In addition, he said the maternal vaccine "protects the mother so she doesn't become ill and transmit to the infant."

    The pertussis vaccine has several known side effects, including redness and swelling at the vaccine site and fatigue and fever. But both children and adults generally tolerate it well, the researchers note.

    "Sadly, we are still seeing deaths in newborns whose mothers did not receive the vaccine for whatever reason," Bryan said. "If worries over vaccine safety is a factor in some women not having the vaccine, then the results from our large study should give that extra bit of reassurance that the vaccine is safe in pregnancy, as well as very beneficial."

    According to Bryan, the UK vaccine program has been a success. He noted that the vaccine's use has been steadily increasing in the UK and that it "has been highly effective at preventing disease and deaths in young babies."

    SOURCE: and The BMJ, online July 11, 2014.