Big Ideas for Tiny Patients

Improving the care our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit offers is a driving force for nurses and doctors at Le Bonheur. Two studies recently conducted by Le Bonheur scientists are doing just that.

Sham Feeding: A Solution for Mother's and Babies After Surgery


Newborns who’ve undergone bowel surgeries can have a significant delay in recovering their ability to suck, because they are unable to consume food by mouth, postoperatively. While this creates a physical challenge for the baby, not feeding their baby — whether by bottle or breast — can also take a
toll on mothers, leaving them feeling helpless and unable to nourish their baby.

Doctors at Le Bonheur set out by the removal of the feed before digestion. Gastrointestinal suction takes place during the feed and for an additional five minutes after the bottle or nursing is complete In this pilot study, 15 patients were able to safely sham feed with a total of 312 feeds, and all mothers reported a reduction in stress. All the mothers said they would recommend sham feeding, and 86% felt that feeding their child improved the bonding relationship.

Early PDA Closure May Improve Outcomes in Premature Babies

Le Bonheur Cardiologist Ranjit Philip, MD, and Medical Director of Interventional Cardiac Imaging and Interventional Catheterization Laboratory Shyam Sathanandam, MD, recently completed important research on patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a medical condition in which a part of the heart — the ductus arteriosus — fails to close after birth.


Their research shows that premature infants with extremely low birth weights (ELBW) may benefit from a heart procedure to close the PDA earlier in life than previously thought.

A study performed by Philip and his team followed 100 premature infants with significant PDA. Infants in the study were separated by age. The grouping included babies younger than 4 weeks old (Group 1), babies 4-8 weeks old (Group 2) and babies older than 8 weeks (Group 3).

While all of the patients required ventilator support at the time of the surgery, the smallest babies (Group 1) were able to breathe without assistance significantly faster than those who had the procedure later in life (Groups 2 and 3). The study also found that babies who had the heart procedure done earlier gained weight more rapidly. 


“Growth during the four-to-eight-week period is important for the overall outcomes of these ELBW infants,” said Philip. “This further supports the notion that earlier PDA closure would be beneficial for ELBW infants.”

How You Make This Happen? 

Every day research teams at Le Bonheur make discoveries, hypotheses and decisions that further advance medical care for children across the world. These experts take their passion for science and medicine to significantly improve and save the lives of sick children.

Without donors like you, this would not be possible. Generous giving and steadfast support provide Le Bonheur with the resources, equipment and tools needed to undertake these major studies. Your support truly saves lives.

Please continue to help through giving, as your donations allow Le Bonheur to make this critically necessary research possible.

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