Saving Early Babies


Joshua Leo and Liz Waid look at the problems of preterm babies - babies born too early. They look at some ways to protect preterm babies.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Joshua Leo.

Voice 2

And I'm Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Every mother gets excited for the day her baby is born. Those nine months pass so slowly. Some women wish that pregnancy lasted less time. Especially at the end, a woman may want her baby to be born earlier. But there can be problems if a baby is born too early. Today's Spotlight is about babies born early, and some new ways to protect them.

Voice 2

Every year 20 million babies are born too early. These babies are very small. They have not fully developed. Many of these babies do not survive. The babies that do survive may have serious health problems. These babies are preterm babies.

Voice 1

There are many things that can increase the risk of a preterm birth. If a mother does not have enough vitamins and minerals when she is pregnant, this increases the risk. If the mother has a medical problem such as diabetes or a high blood pressure, this also increases the risk. So does an infection from a virus, or bacteria. Sometimes, even when the mother is healthy, a baby is born early. Doctors do not always know why this occurs.

Voice 2

Doctors do know that these babies are at a very high risk of health problems and, even death. This is because the baby's body is not ready to survive outside his mother. When the baby is inside his mother, he gets everything he needs from his mother. All food and oxygen comes right into the baby. All waste is carried away. Usually, a baby is born when he does not need the mother's body to survive. But that is not what happens with preterm babies.

Voice 1

A preterm baby has problems because her body is not ready to be outside of the mother's body. The baby's brain may not be fully developed. Her heart and veins may not be ready to pump blood on their own. The lungs may not be ready to breathe air. And sometimes the baby is just not strong enough to live.

Voice 2

Doctors and scientists have worked to develop special methods and technology to help preterm babies. Special machines help the babies stay warm. The machines help them breathe. They keep babies safe from viruses and bacteria. Hospitals have doctors that care only for preterm babies.

Voice 1

Doctors are not the only people able to help preterm babies. Mothers can also do things to reduce the chance of having their baby early. Most important, a woman can take care of her health while she is pregnant. She can make sure that she is eating healthy. She can be sure to wash her hands and stay clean to avoid bacteria. She can visit a health worker to receive correct care and medicine. All these things help the baby to develop as best as possible.

Voice 2

In developing countries it is not always easy to do these things. Not all women can see doctors or get medicine. Some women cannot even get clean water. And healthy food is not always available. Not all women are taught the best way to care for their baby while they are pregnant.

Voice 1

And if the baby is born early, women in developing countries do not have the same kind of care in hospitals.
Some women can not visit large hospitals. And some hospitals do not have the money to buy costly machines to care for preterm babies. Because of this, many more preterm babies die in developing countries than in developed countries.

Voice 2

Aid groups and inventors are working to help these babies survive. Aid groups are working with women. They are teaching them the best ways to care of their preterm babies. One method mothers can use to help preterm babies survive is called kangaroo care. Kangaroos are animals that live in Australia. They carry their babies in a pouch, an area of skin on the front of their body. The baby kangaroo stays warm and grows in the pouch.

Voice 1

Kangaroo care is a method for caring for preterm babies. Preterm babies can be affected greatly by the new things around them. All the new noise, light, and cold affect the baby. Kangaroo care helps the baby to stay calm and keep warm. It is also known as the skin-to-skin method.

Voice 2

The kangaroo care method was developed in the nineteen seventies by a doctor in Bogata, Colombia. His hospital did not have a lot of workers to care for babies. The hospital did not have enough incubator machines to keep every baby warm. So he developed the kangaroo care method to use the mothers as a way to care for preterm babies.

Voice 1

A mother takes most of the baby's clothes off. Then the mother holds the baby against her chest making sure her skin is touching her baby's. The mother's body heat keeps the baby warm and her heartbeat helps the baby breathe more calmly. The kangaroo care method also keeps the baby close to breastfeed from the mother.

Voice 2

But there are other ways being developed to keep preterm babies warm. Incubator machines in hospitals cost about 20,000 dollars. Many hospitals in developing countries cannot afford them. So one group decided to make a new device to keep preterm babies warm, a device that does not cost much money.

Voice 1

Their invention is called the Embrace. It is made out of special cloth. It is like a special blanket that covers the baby's whole body. But inside the cloth is an area for a heating device. The heating device holds boiling water. The boiling water keeps the heating device warm for a long time. The special cloth keeps the heat inside the Embrace without getting too hot. The baby stays warm at the perfect temperature. When the heating device cools down, it shows that it needs to be heated again.

Voice 2

The Embrace is small, lightweight, and easy to carry. But most important, it does not cost much money. One Embrace only costs twenty five dollars, and it can be used again and again. One village could own one Embrace to help all the babies born in the community. The Embrace does not use electricity and it can be used far from any hospital.

Voice 1

Saving preterm babies is possible. And it is becoming easier for mothers no matter what country they live in. Through education and technology, more and more preterm babies have a chance at a healthy life.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of this program was Joshua Leo. All quotes have been adapted and voiced by Spotlight. The voices you heard were from the United States. Computer users can hear our programs, read our scripts, and see our word list on our website at http://www.radio.english.net. This program is called "Saving Early Babies".

Voice 1

If you have a comment or question about this program, you can e-mail us. Our e-mail address is radio @ english . net. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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