Confessions of a Singapore 'baby bloomer'

Confessions of a Singapore 'baby bloomer'
Professor Ho Lai Yun, Emeritus consultant at the department of neonatal and developmental medicine at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

I specialise in neonatology because...

Out of 40,000 babies born here each year, about three to five per cent of them are born prematurely or with an obvious medical condition which requires them to be seen by a neonatologist for special and intensive care.

Over the years, I have helped to correct several misconceptions,

such as the belief that neonates (those born under 1.5kg and before 34 weeks) can be treated as if they were miniature adults, that they cannot be saved and, even if they were, they would be disabled.

Babies are fascinating because...

They grow up rapidly before your eyes, even though they seem delicate. It is as though they are flowers growing in a garden, but you do not make them grow faster by pulling them out of the soil.

One little known fact about neonates is...

Their skin is very thin, hence they are prone to infections and the loss of body heat.

It is why caregivers should always wash their hands before and after touching neonates, as well as before preparing their milk feeds.

Neonates should also be nursed in incubators to keep them warm.

Staphylococcus, a type of bacteria, is usually not harmful to adults. However, babies exposed to this bacteria from people who touch them can deteriorate very fast, with symptoms, such as rapid breathing or a bloated abdomen from an intestinal infection known as necrotising enterocolitis.

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