Octopus helping prevent premature babies from pulling out tubes

DALLAS -- About four million babies are born in the U.S. every year, and one in ten, or about 400,000 American babies will need neonatal intensive care. Premature babies often need feeding and breathing tubes, which they tend to pull out. Now there’s an innovative and simple way to stop it.

Baby Anthony was born at 25 weeks, a micro-preemie weighing only one pound two ounces. Now, he’s up to two pounds seven ounces, thanks to good care in the NICU, and a special friend.

“Now, Anthony has something to grab onto,” father Anthony Flores explained.

Mother, Marissa Flores agreed, “Yeah, he wants to always pull the tubes out. So him being able to grab on the tentacles is just you know, comforting to him.”

“The natural instinct is for the baby to grasp something, and so when they’re grasping it, it makes them feel like they’re holding onto the umbilical cord. Instead of grabbing hold of their breathing tube and pulling, they can grab hold of the tentacle of the octopus and just kind of hold onto that.” Keri Spillman, BSN, RNC-NIC, Clinical Supervisor NICU at Medical City Alliance explained.

“Octopus for a Preemie” started in Denmark and is spreading across the United States. Volunteers crochet the developmental tools to exact specifications to prevent choking and strangulation. A mother sleeps with the octopus first.

Marissa said, “I love it. I held him for the first time after 24 days yesterday and so he was able to you know smell my scent.”

Spillman continued, “So they can smell their mom, they feel the tentacle, they feel at peace and it helps them calm down. Because our babies are continuously monitored until the moment they go home, that’s why it’s okay for us to leave the octopus in the bed with the child, but we do not recommend they’re left in the bed once the child goes home.”

The Flores’ plan to keep it as a reminder and a keepsake for Anthony.

Marissa stated, “It’s his little friend, you know.”

Octopus for Preemies is a growing trend, worldwide. Parents should never allow their babies to handle the crocheted octopus without supervision. For more information log on to Facebook and search for the group page “Octopus for a Preemie, U.S.”



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