The Monash Health Foundation has launched its end-of-year appeal focusing on innovative research that aims to give preterm babies the best chance in life.
In Australia, around 10 per cent of babies are born preterm. Over recent years, there have been many advances in neonatal intensive care, but very preterm babies are still at risk of complications and sadly, some do not survive.
Monash Children’s Hospital has the largest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Victoria with 64 beds dedicated to caring for the most unwell babies. Monash Newborn looks after more than 2000 babies every year.
Some babies are born as early as 24 weeks. When babies are born very early, their heart, lungs, brain and other organs are not fully developed. What’s more, 50 per cent of babies born extremely preterm will have long-term complications. There is also a 10 per cent risk of cerebral palsy or major disability.
Associate Professor Atul Malhotra is Consultant Neonatologist and Head, Early Neurodevelopment Clinic at Monash Children’s Hospital. He is leading a ground-breaking program to use cell therapy in newborns.
“We are trialling cell therapy to treat respiratory and neurological conditions in preterm newborns,” Atul said.
“One such therapy is to take the baby’s own cells can be taken from their umbilical cord after birth, which are then processed and given back to the baby to support their development,” he said. “This may help the babies to have better outcomes.”
“To develop these therapies and treat more babies, we need investment to establish the best cell therapy centre in Australia for the treatment of newborns.”
You can support the vision to help vulnerable preterm babies by donating at: www.monashhealthfoundation.org/2021christmas