Shining a light on World Prematurity Day

As the sun sets on Saturday, 17 November, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead will be basked in a vibrant, purple glow in support of World Prematurity Day.

The lights, which will be installed specially for the day, will serve to raise awareness about preterm births, the deaths and disabilities caused by prematurity and the measures that could prevent them.

Each year, the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care cares for more than 600 critically ill babies and their families, many of whom are born premature. Advances in technology, research and treatment has given these babies are much higher chance of survival but there is still increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders including learning, behavioural/social impairments and mental health issues.

“Raising awareness in the community of premature births and admissions to neonatal intensive care and special care units is exceptionally important,” Nadine Griffiths, Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care said.

“We care for the neonatal population during an incredibly vulnerable period of brain development. Ensuring we have an appropriate care environment, skilled staff and partnering with parents is essential to support neurodevelopmental outcomes.”

Nadine has been instrumental in the provision of neurosupportive developmental care in neonatal intensive care, helping to develop the first Australasian NIDCAP Training Centre.

NIDCAP, standing for Newborn Individualised Developmental Care and Assessment Program, focuses on adapting the newborn intensive care nursery to the unique needs of individual patients, including adjusting stimuli like bright lights, room temperatures and loud noises. 

“Everything that happens in the neonatal unit has an effect – positive, negative or cumulative. These effects can influence babies and families for the rest of their lives,” Nadine said.

“Each day in the neonatal unit we ask ourselves what can we do to support your baby to achieve their maximum potential as an adult? And each day we should be asking what can we do better?”

The theme for this year’s World Prematurity Day is ‘working together: partnering with families in the care of small and sick newborns’, a theme which strongly aligns with the Grace Centre and NIDCAP Training Centre’s focus on recognising parents as partner in care. 

“World Prematurity Day and ‘lighting it purple’ reminds the community of our important role in caring for and supporting the future generations of Australia.”

With 1 in 10 babies around Australia born premature, multiple iconic monuments across the country will ‘light it purple’ to support World Prematurity Day. These landmarks will include Sydney Town Hall, Trafalgar Bridge in Perth and Adelaide Oval.

#WorldPrematurityDay2018 #LightItPurple