Hospitals to improve preemie care

April 23, 2008 12:54:23 PM PDT
New York City's public hospitals are launching a $3 million effort to simulate high-tech wombs for premature babies. The initiative includes low lights and special sound monitors that flash when a neonatal unit gets too noisy for its tiny patients. City Health and Hospitals Corp. President Alan Aviles says the improvements are designed to let the infants "eat, sleep and develop as though they never left their mother's womb prematurely."

The project is being formally announced Wednesday. The agency aims to make the changes in all 11 of its neonatal centers by the end of 2009.

Officials hope the initiative will help premature infants develop more quickly. About 5,500 infants were born prematurely or critically ill in city-run hospitals last year. They represented almost one-fourth of all the hospitals' births.