Dramatic changes have occurred during the last three decades in perinatal medecine regarding mainly: 1. our understanding on the physiology of the fetus and the newborn, and 2. the use of modern technology for the early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases of the newborn or even the fetus.
The above have resulted in a tremendous increase in survival rates of all neonates and especially the preterm and other high risk babies. Hopefully, the great majority of survivals are physically and mentally intact. However, a number of high-risk neonates cared for in the intensive care units manifest several physical or mental problems. In addition the care of these infants in the neonatal units, the use of invasive medical interventions and the isolation techniques used in these units were accompanied by an increase in mother-infant separation. This separation poses a series of problems especially to the premature and to other high-risk infants who present a number of interactional deficits. Given that the parents of these infants pass through a true crisis themselves, it becomes clear how easily these stresses can compromise the later parent-child relationship. As the quality of this relationship largely determines the development and outcome of neonates, the modern policy of neonatology is not only to provide babies with the optimal treatment but also to provide parents with emotional support for the development of adequate parental skills. In our unit we make every effort to promote increased parental visiting and contact with the infant and to foster communication with nursery staff.
Neonatal Unit, 1st Department of Pediatrics