New guidelines to care for premature babies

It's hard to forget those images of NICU babies being evacuated from a New York hospital during Hurricane Sandy.

Many of them born premature, fighting for every breath.

There's now a new approach to caring for these tiny babies and keeping them alive.

Learning to walk is a milestone in any child's life, but for little Nicholas Metz, these steps are nearly miraculous. Nicholas was born at just 24 weeks, more than 3 months early.

Melissa Metz, Nicholas' mom says, "He was one pound, 11 ounces, eleven inches long. Tiny, tiny baby. I didn't even know babies could be born that small."

Many have been born that small, but in the past not many survived. If they did, they were sure to face serious health problems.

Because of that, some didn't give these babies much of a chance, but Dr. Edward Shepherd with Ohio's Nationwide Children's Hospital isn't one of them.

He says, "If you view patients like that, they don't do as well as they could. So our approach is that every one of these kids has enormous potential."

With that in mind, Dr. Shepherd and a team at Nationwide developed a new set of guidelines to care for these babies.

Guidelines that regulate everything from humidity levels in their cribs to oxygen levels in

their blood, from the way their skin is treated to the nutrients they're given.

The guidelines were tested on more than 200 babies and the results are impressive. Dr.

Shepherd says years ago the survival rate for extreme preemies was barely 10%. Not anymore.

Dr. Shepherd says, "The rates of survival seem to be continuing to go up and the latest year of survival was 84%."

That's nearly eight times more than just a generation ago. The guidelines have been so successful that other hospitals around the country are now using them as well.

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