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HSA celebrates World Prematurity Day

14 November 2017, 8:00 AM
Health
radiocayman
The Health Services Authority (HSA) will be offering free developmental checks for all pre-term babies born before 34 weeks, and who are not yet 18 months old and not actively receiving therapy on a regular basis. 
 
The development checks are part of the HSA's initiatives to commemorate World Prematurity Day which focuses on raising awareness for preterm babies - the largest child patient group - and their families. One in 10 babies worldwide is born preterm, which means born before 37 weeks.
 
To support and bring awareness to the importance of early intervention for pre-term babies, Speech and Language Pathologist Faith Gealey, Paediatric Physiotherapist Maggie Tomlin and Occupational Therapist Rosemary North will be providing free screenings on Monday, 20 November 2017 at the Hibiscus Conference Room, Cayman Islands Hospital 10-12pm and 1-3pm. Prior to the screening, Paediatrician and Neonatologist Dr Sara Watkin will make a presentation at 9-10am. Members of the public are invited.
 
"Our goal with these screenings is to target premature babies in the community who are not receiving any intervention and assess them holistically as a multidisciplinary team. This process not only can help parents understand how their child is developing but also helps us as clinicians to be aware of the current needs in the community so that we can plan our services effectively," Ms Gealey noted. 
 
To book an appointment, individuals should email faith.gealey@hsa.ky. Interested persons are advised to book their appointments early.  
 
The World Health Organisation states that, "Premature birth is a very serious health problem. Worldwide, 15 million babies are born preterm and more than a million die as a result. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and intellectual disabilities."
Regular and early physiotherapy intervention is critical to improve the developmental outcomes of preterm infants since they are at greater risk for neurodevelopmental delays and disabilities than full term infants. 
 
"Premature babies are at a high risk for developmental difficulties simply because they have not had as much time in the womb to develop their bodies and their brains. Very often people think of babies and can't imagine that there is a need for any type of therapeutic intervention, however, early monitoring and intervention is the key element in ensuring that premature babies develop adequately. When it comes to premature babies, prevention is always better than the cure," said Ms Gealey.
 
World Prematurity Day is observed annually on November 17. 
 
Visit www.hsa.ky for more information and services offered at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority.
 
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