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Clinic for Babies at Risk of Developmental Delay

Mafraq Hospital opens clinic for new-born babies at risk of developmental delay in order to provide follow-up support programme

June 2, 2013 5:21 by

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, June 02, 2013. Mafraq Hospital, owned and operated by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company PJSC (SEHA), opened a new clinic on April 15th, 2013 to help new-born babies at risk of developmental delay who have been recently discharged from the neonatal unit. Led by Dr. Abdelmuniem Alfituri, Consultant Neonatologist at Mafraq Hospital, the clinic holds a neonatal follow-up programme that has several important aims to ensure that babies and their parents adjust well to their home environment following discharge.

According to Dr. Alfituri, the goals of the programme are to, “Evaluate adequacy of nutrition, assess and support growth and development of the baby, and to provide support when there is evidence of delay as compared to age expectations by referring babies to appropriate professionals. Also, the programme reassures and supports parents, addresses their concerns and ultimately helps to ensure that families adjust well to the home environment following discharge from the neonatal unit.” The neonatal follow-up clinic is supported by collaborations with healthcare professionals from other disciplines at Mafraq Hospital, including a physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, lactation consultant, neurologist and dietitian.

“Our 22-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mafraq hospital is equipped with up to date technology and is staffed to deliver a full range of treatment options to critically ill babies who are 23 weeks gestational age and onward. The unit provides a comprehensive range of services and therapies to babies including: cerebral function monitoring, brain ultrasound, MRI, head cooling, inhaled nitric oxide (a treatment for babies that have difficulty with oxygenation despite full intensive care measures) and neonatal echocardiography (heart scanning). We are developmental care champions. Developmental care is a programme of intervention that aims to provide appropriate stimulation during the new-born period in order to facilitate neurological maturation and promote development,” explains Dr. Alfituri.


Dedicated teams of highly trained neonatal nurses and neonatal specialists provide one-on-one baby care around the clock. Consultant neonatologists lead the team in delivering effective holistic care to babies and their families and when needed, an experienced team of paediatric surgeons and neurosurgeons perform surgical interventions that range from simple to complex. There is also an ophthalmologist who provides screening and laser treatment for retinopathy of prematurity (visual problems resulting from premature birth).

There are several conditions that may jeopardise a baby’s development. According to Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD), infant mortality rates in the UAE are similar to the rates in America, approximately seven per 1,000 births. Dr. Alfituri advises that a parent should not hesitate to contact the hospital if they feel that their baby requires follow-up and he is more than happy to provide follow-up for high risk babies referred from other health facilities. He provides the following list of conditions and characteristics that may detrimentally influence a baby’s development, while emphasising that the list is not exhaustive.

Babies that should receive follow-up:

  1. Premature: babies born following < 32 weeks gestation
  2. Low weight: < 1.5 kg when born
  3. Hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy: disorder of the brain caused by reduced oxygen and blood supply to the brain that may cause brain damage
  4. Babies that require mechanical ventilation for more than 24 hours
  5. Babies with hypotension (low blood pressure) who require treatment with medicines that normalise blood pressure
  6. Babies with other conditions:
    1. Jaundice requiring exchange transfusion: jaundice refers to a yellowish discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excess bilirubin in blood, a product that is toxic to the brain; it is sometimes treated by exchanging the baby’s blood
    2. Symptomatic hypoglycaemia: reduced blood sugar levels
    3. Meningitis: infection in the membrane between the skull and brain
    4. Intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH): broken blood vessels that leak blood into the fluid filled cavities within the brain or directly into the brain in severe cases

The clinic is located in the Paediatric Outpatient Department and is held on Monday every week. There are morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session is dedicated to developmental assessment of babies and accommodates three patients for 40 minutes each. Babies have their developmental progress measured at corrected postnatal ages of 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. The afternoon session addresses routine follow-up for high-risk babies, covering topics such as assessing nutrition, physical growth, medications, parental concerns and more. Note that the clinic is not for emergencies, there are no walk-in patients and attendance should be scheduled beforehand. Please contact Mafraq Hospital if you believe that your new-born may require follow-up.

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