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About this blog

I am a Neonatologist trained in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Edmonton, Alberta.  My current position is Section Head of Neonatology in Manitoba and over my career my interests have meandered from time to time.  I have been a past Program Director of Neonatology and Medical Director for a level II Intensive Care Unit prior to relocating to Winnipeg become a Section Head.

Welcome to my blog which I hope will provide a forum for discussion on topics that are of interest to Neonatologists, trainees, all health care professionals and in some cases parents of those we care for.  My intent is to post opinions and analysis on both items from the media and literature that pertain to neonates.  While I have many interests, my particular motivation is to find ways to reduce discomfort for the patients that we care for.  Whether it is through the use of non-invasive testing or finding a way to improve the patient experience this is where I find myself most energized.

I chose the picture for this site as since the inception of this site there is hardly a country that has not had an individual or many people view posts.  Moreover I have received comments from many people from so many different countries that have inspired me to think not just about the impact of these posts in North America but more globally as well.

If you like what you see and would like updates to be sent to you as they are published feel free to follow the site by clicking the follow button on the sidebar to the bottom right.  You can also follow both my Twitter (@NICU_Musings) and Facebook feeds for additional content and discussion by clicking the additional links found there.

My Facebook page serves as a better means of expanding dialogue on a variety of topics and posts

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Entries in this blog

 

Exclusive human milk diets may overcome programming for the metabolic syndrome

The metabolic syndrome describes the development as an adult of centripetal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar and low HDL cholesterol. These constellation of problems significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. The origins of this syndrome may begin in the newborn period as previous research has noted an association with infants who are born SGA and development of insulin resistance later in life as in the paper Insuli
 

Can we reduce severe IVH with elevated midline head positioning for ELBWs?

Recently the practice of keeping ELBW infants with a midline head position for the first three days of life has been recommended to reduce IVH as part of a bundle in many units.  The evidence that this helps to reduce IVH has been somewhat circumstantial thus far.  Studies finding that decreased sagittal sinus blood flow, increased cerebral blood volume with increased intracranial pressure all occur after head turns would theoretically increase the risk of IVH.  Raising the head of the bed would
 

Intratracheal instillation of steroids to prevent BPD

Choosing to provide postnatal systemic steroids to preterm infants for treatment of evolving BPD has given many to pause before choosing to administer them. Ever since K Barrington published his systematic review The adverse neuro-developmental effects of postnatal steroids in the preterm infant: a systematic review of RCTs. and found a 186% increase in risk of CP among those who received these treatments, efforts have been made to minimize risk when these are given.  Such efforts have included
 

Keeping up with the Kardashians: Should you eat your placenta after delivery?

The medical term for this is placentophagy and it is a real thing. If you follow the lay press you may have seen that originally this was promoted by Kourtney Kardashian who did this herself and then by Kim who planned on doing the same after delivery. See Did Kourtney Kardashian Eat Her Placenta? This is not completely without basis as many readers will be thinking already that they have heard about the health benefits of doing the same. Reports of improved mood and reductions in the ba
 

What secrets are hiding in your patient monitor?

This post is very exciting to me.  All of us in the field of Neonatology are used to staring at patient monitors.  With each version of whatever product we are using there seems to be a new feature that is added to soothe our appetites for more data.  The real estate on the screen is becoming more and more precious as various devices such as ventilators, NIRS and other machines become capable of displaying their information in a centralized place.  The issue though is that there is only so much
 

Can topical breast milk cure teenage and adult acne?

A recent post on the intranasal application of breast milk Can intranasal application of breastmilk cure severe IVH? garnered a lot of attention and importantly comments.  Many of the comments were related to other uses for breast milk (almost all of which I had no idea about).  A quick search by google uncovered MANY articles from the lay press on such uses from treating ear infections to diaper dermatitis.  One such article 6 Surprising Natural Uses For Breast Milk certainly makes this liquid
Do you know what’s in your tube of glucose gel?

Do you know what’s in your tube of glucose gel?

Hypoglycemia has been a frequent topic of posts over the last few years. Specifically, the use of dextrose gels to avoid admission for hypoglycemia and evidence that such a strategy in not associated with adverse outcomes in childhood. What we know is that dextrose gels work and for those centres that have embraced this strategy a reduction in IV treatment with dextrose has been noted as well. Dextrose gels however in the trials were designed to test the hypothesis that use of 0.5 mL/kg
 

Can intranasal application of breastmilk cure severe IVH?

It isn’t often in Neonatology these days that something truly innovative comes along. While the study I will be discussing is certainly small I think it represents the start of something bigger that we will see evolve over the coming years. There is no question that the benefits of mother’s own milk are extensive and include such positive outcomes as improved cognition in preterm infants and reductions in NEC. The benefits come from the immunological properties as well as the microbiome
 

Less Invasive Surfactant Administration with High Volume Surfactant

InSurE (Intubate, Surfactant, Extubate) has been the standard approach for some time when it comes to treating RDS.  Less Invasive Surfactant Administration (LISA) or Minimally Invasive Surfactant Administration (MIST) have been growing in popularity as an alternative technique.  More than just popular, the techniques have been shown to reduce some important short term and possibly long term outcomes when used instead of the InSurE approach.  Aldana-Aquirre et al published the most recent system
 

Was resetting the threshold for hypoglycaemia a good thing?

In 2015 the Pediatric Endocrine Society (PES) published new recommendations for defining and managing hypoglycaemia in the newborn. A colleague of mine and I discussed the changes and came to the conclusion that the changes suggested were reasonable with some “tweaks”. The PES suggested a change from 2.6 mmol/L (47 mg/dL) at 48 hours of age as a minimum goal glucose to 3.3 mmol/L (60 mg/dL) as the big change in approach. The arguments for this change was largely based on data from normal preterm
 

Caffeine. Give it and give it early.

Use of caffeine in the NICU as a treatment for apnea of prematurity is a topic that has certainly seen it’s fair share of coverage on this blog. Just when you think there is an aspect of treatment with caffeine that hasn’t been covered before, along comes a new paper to change my mind. The Caffeine for Apnea of Prematurity study or CAP, demonstrated that caffeine given between 3-10 days of age reduced the incidence of BPD in those treated compared to those receiving placebo. As an added ben
 

At 22 weeks of gestation does your faith matter most to outcome?

Recent statements by the American Academy of Pediatric’s, NICHD, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), and recommend selective approaches to mothers presenting between 22 0/7 to 22 6/7 weeks. The decision to provide antenatal steroids is only recommended if delivery is expected after 23 weeks. Furthermore the decision to resuscitate is based on an examination of a number of factors including a shared decision with the fami

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Does size really matter when weaning from an incubator?

Look around an NICU and you will see many infants living in incubators. All will eventually graduate to a bassinet or crib but the question always is when should that happen? The decision is usually left to nursing but I find myself often asking if a baby can be taken out. My motivation is fairly simple. Parents can more easily see and interact with their baby when they are out of the incubator. Removing the sense of “don’t touch” that exists for babies in the incubators might have the psycholog

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Every drop counts

As a Neonatologist, there is no question that I am supportive of breast milk for preterm infants.  When I first meet a family I ask the question “are you planning on breastfeeding” and know that other members of our team do the same.  Before I get into the rest of this post, I realize that while breast milk may be optimal for these infants there are mother’s who can’t or won’t for a variety of reasons produce enough breast milk for their infants.  Fortunately in Manitoba and many other places in

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Delayed cord clamping may get replaced. Time for physiological-based cord clamping?

Much has been written on the topic of cord clamping.  There is delayed cord clamping of course but institutions differ on the recommended duration.  Thirty seconds, one minute or two or even sometimes three have been advocated for but in the end do we really know what is right?  Then there is also the possibility of cord milking which has gained variable traction over the years.  A recent review was published here. Take the Guessing Out of the Picture?

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Using the printed word to treat apnea of prematurity

As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.  In recent years there has been a move towards this in NICUs as the benefits of family centred care have been shown time and time again.  Hi tech and new pharmaceutical products continue to develop but getting back to the basics of skin to skin care for many hours and presence of families as an integral team member have become promoted for their benefits.  The fetus is a captive audience and hears the mother's heart beat and voice after the development

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Don’t let the cord gas fool you

It has to be one of the most common questions you will hear uttered in the NICU.  What were the cord gases?  You have a sick infant in front of you and because we are human and like everything to fit into a nicely packaged box we feel a sense of relief when we are told the cord gases are indeed poor.  The congruence fits with our expectation and that makes us feel as if we understand how this baby in front of us looks the way they do. Take the following case though and think about how yo

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

The days of the Apgar score may be numbered

One of the first things a student of any discipline caring for newborns is how to calculate the apgar score at birth.  Over 60 years ago Virginia Apgar created this score as a means of giving care providers a consistent snapshot of what an infant was like in the first minute then fifth and if needed 10, 15 and so on if resuscitation was ongoing.  For sure it has served a useful purpose as an apgar score of 0 and 0 gives one cause for real worry.  What about a baby with an apgar of 3 and 7 or 4 a

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

This Vitamin Could Save A Babies Life

It has been a few months now that I have been serving as Chair of the Fetus and Newborn Committee for the Canadian Pediatric Society. Certain statements that we release resonate strongly with me and the one just released this week is certainly one of them. Guidelines for vitamin K prophylaxis in newborns is an important statement about a condition that thankfully so few people ever experience.  To read the statement on the CPS website click here. Similar story to vaccinations Pri

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Intubating to give surfactant is so 2017!

A catchy title for sure and also an exaggeration as I don’t see us abandoning the endotracheal tube just yet.  There has been a lot of talk about less invasive means of giving surfactant and the last few years have seen several papers relating to giving surfactant via a catheter placed in the trachea (MIST or LISA techniques as examples).  There may be a new kid on the block so to speak and that is aerosolized surfactant.  This has been talked about for some time as well but the challenge had be

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Can video laryngoscopes reduce risk of harm from intubation?

The modern NICU is one that is full of patients on CPAP these days. As I have mentioned before, the opportunity to intubate is therefore becoming more and more rare is non-invasive pressure support becomes the mainstay of therapy. Even for those with established skills in placing an endotracheal tube, the number of times one gets to do this per year is certainly becoming fewer and fewer. Coming to the rescue is the promise of easier intubations by being able to visualize an airway on a screen us

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Was adding placement of EKG leads to NRP a good idea after all?

It is hard to believe but it has been almost 3 years since I wrote a piece entitled A 200 year old invention that remains king of all tech in newborn resuscitation. In the post I shared a recent story of a situation in which the EKG leads told a different story that what our ears and fingers would want us to believe. The concept of the piece was that in the setting of pulseless electrical activity (where there is electrical conductance in the myocardium but lack of contraction leaves no blood fl

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Is paralysis for intubation really needed?

A few weeks back I wrote about the topic of intubations and whether premedication is really needed (Still performing awake intubations in newborns? Maybe this will change your mind.) I was clear in my belief that it is and offered reasons why. There is another group of practitioners though that generally agree that premedication is beneficial but have a different question. Many believe that analgesia or sedation is needed but question the need for paralysis. The usual argument is that if the int

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

Hospital or Home Based Therapy For Neonatal Abstinence?

This post is very timely as the CPS Fetus and Newborn committee has just released a new practice point: Managing infants born to mothers who have used opioids during pregnancy Have a look at discharge considerations as that section in the statement speaks to this topic as well! As bed pressures mount seemingly everywhere and “patient flow” becomes the catch-word of the day, wouldn’t it be nice to manage NAS patients in their homes?  In many centres, such patients if hospi

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

 

How long should we treat preterm infants with caffeine?

Much has been written about methylxanthines over the years with the main questions initially being, “should we use them?”, “how big a dose should we use” and of course “theophylline vs caffeine”. At least in our units and in most others I know of caffeine seems to reign supreme and while there remains some discussion about whether dosing for maintenance of 2.5 -5 mg/kg/d of caffeine base or 5 – 10 mg/kg/d is the right way to go I think most favour the lower dose. We also know from the CAP study

AllThingsNeonatal

AllThingsNeonatal

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