Jennifer was not expecting any drama associated with the birth of her son, Bradley. She thought her pregnancy was moving along on schedule, and her son seemed to be developing normally every step of the way.
“It was an ideal pregnancy,” Jennifer says. “In fact, I was running up until the day I gave birth.”
But the arrival of Jennifer’s first-born child came much sooner than anyone expected, with Bradley born on June 27, 2017.
“Jennifer’s pregnancy was complicated by early labor, and things went very fast from a perfect pregnancy to an impending delivery of a premature baby. Bradley was born at 32 weeks gestational age—about eight weeks before his due date,” says Sandra Brooks, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, associate medical director for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “Any baby born this early needs intensive care support. In general, any baby who is born at 34 weeks gestation and earlier is an automatic admission to our NICU.”
A multidisciplinary team of pediatric subspecialists in the NICU collaborated to provide Bradley with the patient-centered care necessary based on his clinical course.
“Infants born premature require care in the ICU owing to the fact that every organ is still developing and may pose challenges post-birth,” says Prabhu Parimi, M.D., M.B.A., C.P.E., division chief of neonatology and director of the Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Institute. “They require holistic care by skilled staff members in the ICU.”
In Bradley’s case, breathing issues were among the first challenges he encountered following his arrival. The health care team intervened with non-invasive respiratory support, but that was only the beginning of Bradley’s complications.
At six days old, he had an episode of significant low heart rate caused by blood stream and urinary tract infections, which were promptly cleared with antibiotics. He benefited from the fact that the NICU specialists are dedicated to exploring why babies born prematurely are susceptible to blood stream infections like Bradley’s and continually research intervention strategies to prevent these occurrences.
A Happy Homecoming
Six weeks after being admitted to the NICU, Bradley was released to begin life in his new home with his family, who could not be more grateful for the exemplary care provided by the NICU staff.
“Not only did they take care of Bradley, but they were also so patient as they helped us understand his condition so that we could make the decisions that would be best for his care,” Jennifer says. “Bradley is such a happy and healthy baby now.”
This story first appeared in For the Kids, published by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation.