Being a paediatrician doesn’t mean you can be certain your unborn child will avoid monitoring and intervention at birth.
Dr Alex Wallace, was always aware her little boy wasn’t going to be so little from what the hospital scans had picked up – and because he was lying transverse she was admitted to hospital at 37 weeks pregnant in case he decided to come early.
Just two days after his mum was admitted to Waikato Hospital, Sam was born by emergency caesarean weighing 3.7kg and on the 90th percentile for birth weight.
The combination of his larger birth weight and being put under stress in utero meant that Sam became hypoglycaemic soon after birth, and came to be the last ever baby born at Waikato Hospital to be recruited to the Auckland University led Sugar Babies study.
He is one of a group of 514 babies born between 2008-10 at Waikato Hospital at 35 weeks gestation or later to take part in the study, which is being published in the Lancet this month.
That was in November 2012. Today, Sam is a vibrant, happy and healthy little man who keeps his mum, dad and big brother Lachie (4) on their toes.
“I had no hesitation in Sam being involved in the Sugar Babies study with Deb (Dr Deborah Harris from Waikato DHB’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). As a paediatrician and a mum I was really keen to be involved in research with such important outcomes for mothers and their babies,” said Dr Wallace.
“Sam’s participation in the Sugar Babies study offered me peace of mind as I knew he was being closely monitored and it meant that he could stay with me in the ward rather than going into NICU.
“It was a win-win for me and Sam on lots of different levels.”
As part of the study, Sam’s blood sugar levels were monitored for 48 hours using a continuous glucose monitor and he was treated with gel for hypoglycaemia.
Sam also had neurodevelopmental and paediatric assessments at two years old as follow up from his participation in the Sugar Babies study. A second assessment will be done at four-and-a-half.
“I think the reason the Sugar Babies study has been so successful from a mother’s point of view is that the gel treatment – the integral part of the study – is so easy to administer and is really well tolerated,” said Dr Wallace.
“Deb and her team really did make it so easy.
“It’s a really great non-invasive treatment for hypoglycaemic babies which I think most parents would find very acceptable.”
And Dr Harris says finding those babies wasn’t hard, which she partly attributes to the friendly branding that was created for the study by Waikato DHB designer Tamara Miles.
Miss Miles said when it came to creating the Sugar Babies logo, she was careful to use warm colours and a gender neutral, bubbly cartoon style for the icons and fonts to help humanise the look and feel.
“This was done to appeal to as many parents as possible without appearing too clinical. We were heavily involved with development and presentation of all the resources both promotional and clinical.”
Dr Harris said the design was extremely helpful in recruiting mothers and babies to the study.
“Tamara was a pleasure to work with and we think she has really contributed to the study’s success so we are so grateful to her for design skill.”
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