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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 December, 2003, 08:56 GMT
'My babies were six weeks too early'
Jane Elliott
BBC News Online health staff

Rees and Ellie Moor
Rees and Ellie were premature

When Carol Moor looked at her tiny babies fighting for their lives in a hospital incubator it was hard to believe she would ever take them home.

But four months later Carol, from Rugby in Warwickshire, has a healthy boy and girl.

And, apart from a few developmental delays, there are no signs to show that Rees and Ellie were six weeks premature.

Carol, who already had a six-year-old daughter, had already suffered a number of miscarriages when she became pregnant with twins.

Monitor

Because of her previous pregnancy history, and because she was carrying twins, medics monitored her pregnancy very carefully.

And when, at 30 weeks, she started suffering from the first signs of obstetric cholestasis, a liver disease first indicated by severe itching, she was admitted to hospital.

I knew that the longer they were in the womb the better it would be for them
Carol Moor

"As time went on I was becoming more and more worried about how I was going to carry on and what was going to happen.

"But I knew that the longer they were in the womb the better it would be for them."

Four weeks later scans showed the baby girl had stopped growing and her heart was failing.

An caesarean operation was planned and Carol was whisked in for surgery.

Minutes later Rees was born at a respectable 5lb 14oz and Ellie at 4lb 8oz.

Care

But because they had been born so premature both needed treatment in the special care unit, where Rees developed breathing difficulties.

It was three days before Carol was able to see her babies.

"I was very poorly after my caesarean so I did not see the twins until they were three days old. And then when I saw them in the incubator all wired up it was very upsetting.

"Obviously it was very scary and worrying, but we knew they were getting the best care from the staff, who did such a good job, feeding, changing and monitoring them.

PREMATURE BABIES
Each year in the UK one in 10 babies is born before 37 weeks
Of the 52,000 premature births each year in Britain about 2,500 babies will weigh less than 4lb and will require long-term care in a special care baby unit

"Rees struggled when he was first born, both to breathe and to feed.

"While I was in the hospital I could pop down and see them any time of the day or night.

"I knew all the scary machines that they were attached to were doing such a good job helping them to feed and breathe. Because they were born so early they did not know how to suck."

Although Carol's babies were born six weeks early, some mothers in the same hospital were giving birth up to 10 weeks early.

"There were people who delivered babies who were 10 weeks early. Special care was constantly full - there were babies who were constantly being brought in."

For three weeks the twins remained in special care before being allowed home with Carol and partner Rob.

Now the twins have no physical signs of their early ordeal, but Carol said the doctors had kept a very close eye on their development.

She said that in the first few weeks they had more checks than most babies their age and that she always had to remember they were six weeks behind their contemporaries in terms of physical development.

"Normally I would be thinking of weaning the twins to take solids at the age of four months, but we are not even thinking of that yet, they will be doing that just that little bit later," she said.

Because of her experiences, Carol and her family are now throwing themselves behind the charity WellBeing's Tiny Steps Appeal, to help raise cash to support research into prematurity.

"WellBeing do so much - they fund raise and help to buy the incubators and equipment, as well as doing the research.

"The cost of running a special care unit and clothing all the babies must be astronomical."

A spokesman for WellBeing said: "With around 190 babies born prematurely every day research into pregnancy and preterm birth is essential if we are ever going to understand what causes it and what can be done to prevent it."

Professor Steven Thornton, professor of Obstetrics at University Hospital, Coventry and the University of Warwick, said cash was desperately needed to help research into why some women give birth too early and to help prevent the birth defects a lot of their babies suffer.

"There are still a lot of women going into premature labour. Premature labour is a major problem.

"This is a major issue in this country and we do not understand why premature labour occurs so frequently.

"We need to start to understand the problem so that we can stop premature labour."


SEE ALSO:
Dental care 'cuts early births'
26 Aug 03  |  Health


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