Friday, August 21, 2009
Medical Reports: Saving Little Lungs
Babies born too early often have trouble breathing because their lungs are not fully developed, but now a tool used on adults is saving lives. 7''s Richard Lemus has more in today's Healthcast.
WSVN -- Martina McCloud: "It was just scary at that point."
When a baby comes early it's a scary time for parents.
Martina McCloud: "There were so many risks and we had no clue."
Twins Dallon and Damon were born almost three months premature.
Martina McCloud: "It could go hour by hour or day by day, but you just got to stick in there.
The toughest battle for doctors is helping the babies breathe. Ventilators keep them alive, but in 20 to 50 percent of cases, the pressure damages their lungs.
Dr. Mario Rojas: "Every baby that has respiratory problems gets put on mechanical ventilation. I think that we're doing more damage at this point with that technology than benefit."
But now, instead of ventilators, doctors use a low-tech machine many adults use for sleep apnea. The CPAP machine covers the nose not the mouth and provides a continuous flow of air to prevent little lungs from collapsing.
Dr. Mario Rojas: "These are the prongs that go in the baby's nose."
In a study 74 percent of preemies didn't need a ventilator only a CPAP machine to breathe. The less invasive approach reduced the rate of chronic lung disease by ten percent and cut costs.
Dr. Mario Rojas: "On average, a ventilator could cost between $27,000 and $36,000. A system like CPAP, even done in a simple way, could cost less than $500."
Without the ventilator attached, Martina Mccloud rocks and holds her babies.
Martina McCloud: "He has a big attitude and a little body."
Proving less may be more when it comes to caring for the tiniest survivors.
Doctor Rojas is using this study to promote the use of CPAP machines in developing countries where nearly four million babies die every year because of respiratory problems.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
National News Director
Vanderbilt University Medical Center