Preemie Matters - May 2011

In this issue of Preemie Matters: How Accurate Are 18-Month Autism Screens for "Extreme Preemies"?  •  Partner Profile: Project Cameron's Story  •  New Test on the Horizon to Predict Preterm Birth  •  Prematurity a Risk Factor for Diabetes Later in Life  •  FDA Warning: Feeding Product Linked to NEC in Preemies

How Accurate Are 18-Month Autism Screens for "Extreme Preemies"?

New research suggests that the standard pediatric autism screen may not yield accurate results for children born very prematurely. The study, recently presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting, finds that not all extremely premature infants who screen positive for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at age 18 months actually have the disorder - but may in fact fail the screen due to prematurity-related cognitive or language delays. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines recommend that pediatricians screen all children for ASD at 18-24 months of age, with referrals to formal assessments for those who fail the screening. While many NICU follow-up clinics are using this protocol, the research team says the accuracy of early screening with extremely premature babies needs more investigation.

Partner Profile: Project Cameron's Story

Project Cameron's Story places a new, quality children's book in the hands of every parent of a premature baby admitted to the neonatal ICU at Albany Medical Center, New York. Founded by a micro-preemie mom who lost her son after a rehospitalization, this nonprofit organization uses children's literature and storytelling to support the bonding of parents with their infants during their time in the NICU. Their mission is powerful, empowering parents to form unique and profound connections with their children in an environment that is often uncertain and intimidating.

New Test on the Horizon to Predict Preterm Birth

A simple second-trimester blood test may soon be able to predict significant percentage of preterm births. After researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah identified new peptide biomarkers that may signal preterm birth when analyzed alongside other proteins, they patented the method for detecting the peptides and licensed it to Sera Prognostics. The license-holding company says it plans to make available a diagnostic test for physician offices within a year. The current study is published in the May edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Prematurity a Risk Factor for Diabetes Later in Life

Swedish research has found a slightly increased risk of developing diabetes later in life for individuals born prematurely. The study, tracking roughly 630,000 births from the 1970s, found that children born before 37 weeks were at a modestly elevated (less than one percent) risk of developing diabetes by the time they reached their twenties and thirties. In addition to the need for awareness among healthcare providers and parents that prematurity is a diabetes risk factor, the findings point to how important it may be individuals born prematurely to avoid additional risk factors as they age - including being overweight, not getting enough exercise and having high blood pressure.

FDA Warning: Feeding Product Linked to NEC in Preemies

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents and healthcare providers not to feed the product SimplyThick to infants born before 37 weeks who are currently receiving hospital care or have been discharged from the hospital within the past 30 days. The product, used with children who have swallowing disorders, may cause the life-threatening condition necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The agency has become aware of multiple cases of NEC, inclduing two deaths, involving premature infants who were fed SimplyThick for varying lengths of time, mixed with mothers' breast milk or with infant formula products.


Information is reported as provided and does not necessarily represent the view of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. A complete copy of HMHB's disclaimer is available on our website.