The survival rate for preterm infants is continuously improving thanks to advances made in science, medical technology and care; However, associations and organisations of parents and healthcare specialists not only focus their attention on methods designed to ensure the survival of preterm babies, but also examine the options open to improve the quality of life and long-term outcome, which are influenced by a variety of factors. For example, while the provision of infant- and family-centred developmentally supportive care in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) is viewed as one key factor next to the use of evidenced based treatment and care, the primary goal must always be to prevent preterm birth from the beginning.
Many studies have shown that the social environment, in which a preterm born child grows up, plays a critical role in the child’s long-term development. Building family bonds, acquiring parenting skills, establishing networks in the environments of the affected families and access to effective follow-up and continuing care are increasingly becoming a part of treatment concepts. And yet, there is a lack of officially controlled quality criteria that would make these elements mandatory for all sites where preterm infants are treated . Efforts to support healthcare sites to develop their full potential have to proceed. To this aim, EFCNI together with experts, parent representatives and other stakeholders develops European Standards of Care for Newborn Health and is part of research projects such as SHIPS or RECAP preterm.
- Goldenberg R, Culhane J, Iams JD, Romero R. Epidemiology and causes of preterm birth. 2008. The Lancet. 371(9606): 75–84.