Grace Newborn Care

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Overview

The Grace Centre for Newborn Care is a neonatal intensive care unit which cares for approximately 600 infants each year from NSW, the ACT and surrounding Pacific islands. The unit specifically cares for babies with cardiac and surgical problems or complex medical conditions.

As part of the Centre's mission to improve care and outcomes for babies and their families, it encourages novice researchers and postgraduate research degree enrolment. The Centre's research focuses on clinical issues, particularly on how to improve the quality of care and long-term outcomes of newborn babies both in the NICU and after they go home.

Research achievements

Among several competitive research grants achieved this year is funding from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation in the USA to study long term quality of life in very small babies who have survived complex surgery at ever younger ages. The DAISY (Development after Infant Surgery) Study addresses the effects of infant surgery, aiming to identify the range of long term outcomes and enabling early interventions.

The Centre is also examining the social and emotional burden on families of having an infant who requires neonatal surgery. This includes a study of post traumatic stress in parents who have a baby in intensive care and following discharge.

Often babies in the NICU are exposed to many potentially painful procedures as well as pain as a result of neonatal surgery. The Centre is part of a national project to close the evidence/practice gap for pain management practices in the post-operative period in newborns. As part of this, a study was undertaken to obtain information on the practices and beliefs of junior doctors regarding neonatal pain and to compare this to best evidence.

Several other research projects are also underway. The Centre is examining the effect of up to date nursing knowledge and decision making skills on patient outcomes, a collaborative project with all the NICUs in NSW; reviewing the anti-inflammatory protein, Clara Cell Secretory Protein, the deficiency of which in preterm babies contributes to premature lung disease, and assessing the role of diagnostic ultrasound prior to transport from peripheral hospitals on making sure the babies reach the unit in the best possible condition.