UNICEF supports the growth and development of babies born prematurely or underweight
To contribute to the decrease in neonatal and infant morbidity and mortality and to promote breastfeeding, UNICEF supports the Kangaroo Method and its three fundamental pillars: kangaroo position, breastfeeding and outpatient follow-up
Children that are born before the 37 weeks or underweight face a risk such as mild alterations in their cognitive functions, delayed psychomotor development, vision loss, deafness, and even autism.
To mitigate these risks, UNICEF supports the early care of premature infants, and their families, through skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth and according to the degree of prematurity or affectation, such practice is known as Kangaroo Mother Care Method. Thus, UNICEF, alongside health authorities, and multidisciplinary and family medical teams, work so every child enjoys their right to the highest possible level of health and quality services for the treatment of diseases, as it is established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the lactation center, mothers are assisted by a team of doctors, promoters, and nurses who guide and teach them the proper techniques for successful breastfeeding and how to preserve their breast milk. “Several promoters assist mothers from the moment they arrive at the emergency room. These new spaces reduce work for us since we now count on a mechanical device that helps women to prevent mastitis, hardening of their breasts, and those who have difficulty breastfeeding their baby. In this location, we set up the device (manual breast pump) and she feels relieved”, Indicates Elba Melchor, who is a promoter of humanized birth in the hospital.
In the outpatient consult, we offer medical assistance to monitor the growth and development of children until they are two years old, and to continue educating family members on the care of their children. Likewise, medical advice on breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and immunizations, among other key aspects for the health of these children is provided to the mothers. This consult is of vital importance since it allows timely diagnosis and treatment of some pathologies that occur in these children, such as metabolic or gastrointestinal disorders, sensorineural disorders such as cerebral paralysis, blindness, deafness; language problems, among others.
This care design allows the inclusion of both parents, as well as the whole family together with a group of professionals from different disciplines such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists, and social workers, among others, all integrated into an environment aimed at the care and stimulation of these children.
In this consult, parents are reinforced with the importance of early attachment, through the kangaroo mother care method, and this way they are actively involved in the development of their baby.
Suarnny is 7 months old. She was born at 35 weeks weighing 2.4 kilograms and then gradually lost weight. Today she has an expected development thanks to the accompaniment of the multidisciplinary team that has been with her watching over her development and growth process. “The first days were tough, she had to be in an incubator for a month. In the hospital they encouraged me, they explained to me how to breastfeed her at the clinic and that I should talk to her and stimulate her. Little by little I was getting ahead, my girl was gradually gaining weight. I bring her monthly to her consultation”, indicates her mom Neyra.
Through their nutrition programme, in coordination with the health authorities and thanks to the contribution of international donors, UNICEF contributes to the reduction of infant mortality by improving the care of children born prematurely and underweight.