Perinatal mortality in very low birth weight infants has dramatically decreased during the last decades. However, 15-25% of these infants will show neurodevelopmental impairment later on. The aim of implementing early developmental care (EDC), emerged as a new field in neonatology, is to create an intervention program designed to provide support for optimal neurobehavioral development during this highly vulnerable period of brain growth. The theoretical framework, which underlies the approach, is supported by research in different scientific fields, including neuroscience, psychology, medicine and nursing. EDC utilizes a range of medical and nursing interventions that aim to decrease the stress of preterm neonates in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The Neonatal Individualized Developmental Care Assessment Program (NIDCAP) is an integrated and holistic form of family-centered developmental care. Changing the traditional NICU towards an EDC-NICU includes training nursing and medical staff, investing in their quality and most importantly keeping parents in proximity to the infants. The new challenge of modern neonatology is to restore the mother-infant dyad applying “couplet care” starting at birth until discharge. Most of the European NICUs apply some elements of EDC, but it is more consistent in northern Europe. The development of NIDCAP training centers in Europe demonstrates the evolution of care. It is likely that future research and intervention programs will optimize our practices. Developmental care could prove to be an important recent step in improving outcome in extremely preterm neonates.
Proceedings of the 10th International Workshop on Neonatology · Cagliari (Italy) · October 22nd-25th, 2014 · The last ten years, the next ten years in Neonatology
Guest Editors: Vassilios Fanos, Michele Mussap, Gavino Faa, Apostolos Papageorgiou