As many as 10% of babies in Hong Kong are preemies – child born preterm, i.e. fewer than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preemies are prone to greater health and developmental risks.
While their medical needs are well taken care of by our healthcare system, the parents of preemies often feel that they are fighting a battle on their own with neither parenting training nor parental support, and are under immense stress. Sufficient knowledge and understanding of prematurity complications can facilitate parents in making decisions about care that their kids may need.
Parental support and training especially during the first few years are critical for optimising the quality of life and developmental outcomes for preemies. Over the past few years, the team has been conducting educational workshops and interacting with families, identifying a demand for more flexible, sustainable and easily accessible means of support. The team has established an online parenting programme, with validated information on preterm development and parenting skills, quality community resources and help-seeking channels, as well as a space for interaction with professionals and fellow parents.
With easier access to validated information and positive parenting skills, parents are more capable of seeking earlier intervention for behavioural and developmental problems in their preterm kids. Social service organisations are also supported with quality materials for parents, improving the consistency of service quality in the long run.
– Parents and family members with children born preterm
Dr Simon Lam is currently Associate Professor at the Department of Paediatrics and Assistant Dean (External Affairs) of the Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He practices as a paediatrician in the neonatal unit at the Prince of Wales Hospital and his research interests are in neonatology, sleep/wake patterns in young children and environmental impact on child health. He is currently on the Advisory Council of the Australian & New Zealand Neonatal Network (ANZNN) and Hon Treasurer of the Hong Kong College of Paediatricians.