Helping tiny surgical patients reach their full potential

04 August 2014

Research at the Kids Research Institute has shown that born babies who have surgery need more specialised care as they grow up than was previously thought.

The international DAISY study is looking at the long term outcomes in babies who have surgery early in life. It has found that all babies who receive surgery are behind other children in language, cognition and motor development at both one and three years.

It is a collaborative state-wide study between neonatal specialists, nurses, surgeons, cardiologists and other subspecialists and was the subject of Dr Karen Walker’s PhD thesis.

She says it is still unclear what causes the developmental delay, but there are probably many factors: the babies are born with congenital problems, they receive anaesthesia and other medications when they are very young, they are unwell and require major surgery at a time when the brain is embarking on a crucial stage of development in the days after birth.

Now the problem has been recognised, clinicians can take steps to ensure that these babies receive the services they need to boost their development as they grow up.

These research findings have prompted the Grace Developmental Follow-up Clinic to expand and enrol children who had surgery as newborns.

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