Blog: Neonatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Neonatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic

September 14, 2021
September 14, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact across the healthcare continuum. Much attention was initially paid to the outsized effect of the virus within the elderly population, especially in the mortality rate among those living in a residential care environment. Now that vaccines are widely available, we've turned our attention to the unvaccinated, whether by choice or due to age, given that the youngest members of the population are not considered to be eligible for inoculation. As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, consider the immense threats that COVID-19 brings into the world of pre-term deliveries and neonatal care.

COVID-19 restrictions conflict with standard neonatal care

A 2021 article in the Lancet about a neonatal care study reminds readers that "Preterm birth is the leading cause of death under five years of age. Worldwide, more than one in ten infants, an estimated 15 million, are born preterm every year. Together with sick and low birthweight infants, these newborns require specialized care to prevent mortality, support adequate growth and development, and to reduce the risk of morbidities in later life." The same article warns that in terms of these infants, "their needs have not been considered adequately during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created exceptional challenges and disrupted healthcare provision across the globe even more."

The negative impact of COVID-19 precautions

The Lancet also shares that "implemented measures have resulted in a limitation of some of the core elements of IFCDC [infant and family-centered developmental care], such as parental presence and family access for infants admitted to NICUs, as parents were routinely separated from their newborn. These restrictions have a deleterious effect on developing infants and their parents. According to the Lancet, "Recent findings indicate that the use of personal protective equipment, including face masks in neonatal care, as well as separation from the parents, alters parents' as well as the healthcare professionals' ability to communicate with the infant, potentially impacting the development of speech, language and communication." Ultimately, the study authors "call for a zero-separation policy of parents and infants to avoid unnecessary suffering of the youngest and most vulnerable members of society."

Education for neonatal care

HealthStream's maternal care training programs focus on this particularly difficult aspect of healthcare by providing your staff with the training and resources they need to move the needle on safe, quality care. Learn more about NOEP and other maternal care training programs available through HealthStream.