Basic Care for the “Small Baby

Neonatal mortality has reached a significant low in Sri Lanka.  Of these neonatal deaths, over 25% are due to pre-term or low birth weight babies; i.e what WHO defines as the “Small Babies”. If we are to improve our neonatal statistics, we need to improve the outcome of these babies. In addition, in many instances, the survivors of this group have poor long term outcome, with chronic disabilities leading to a  poor quality of life.

It is now established that basic care during the first few days of life will greatly improve morbidity and mortality of all neonates, and this care does not need expensive interventions.  This handbook aims to help staff learn this early basic care that should be given to all babies, specially the Small Babies, which will significantly improve their survival and long-term outcome.

The book is divided into six chapters which deal with care from birth to discharge from hospital including a brief account of early follow up in the community. The chapters are written in a concise manner to incorporate the practical aspects of newborn care, with special emphasis on the Small Baby. Two areas – neonatal resuscitation and breast feeding – have been avoided intentionally since these areas are covered in separate modules by the Family Health Bureau and the College of Paediatricians.

We hope that this hand book will help persons working in Special Care baby Units, NICU’S and post-natal wards in their routine care of neonates – specially the growth retarded and preterm ones.

I thank all the authors who have spent their valuable time in compiling these chapters, and the Perinatal Society of Sri Lanka for encouraging us on this important venture.