The NYT Magazine profiles the efforts of Harvard child developmental psychologist Heidelise Als to help premature babies by making the NICU more supportive of kids' brain development, not just their phsyical survival. What that involves: making the NICU more womb-like, and making the baby's own experience and POV a prime consideration. Sounds like a no-brainer to me (no pun intended).
In 2003, Als and a dozen colleagues reported on the effectiveness of a treatment program that requires doctors and nurses to deliver food and care on a schedule that gives the infants more time to rest, relax and sleep. The care was organized around the needs of the individual infants and families, instead of the work schedules of the doctors and nurses. The findings were remarkable. The babies moved more quickly from intravenous to oral feeding. They spent less time in the N.I.C.U. and had fewer infections, better motor skills and a better ability to focus their attention. They grew faster. And their families displayed less stress and had better relationships with their children. The study provided "clear evidence for the effectiveness of individualized developmental care," the researchers concluded.Still, Als has had limited success.
A Second Womb [nytmag]