Pediatrician says reports of babies burnt in NICU are ‘unfortunate’

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While receiving treatment at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Antigua, it was unfortunate that two babies were allegedly burnt.

That was according to St. Lucia-based Antiguan pediatrician Dr. Jaqueline Bird who spoke on OBSERVER media’s Big Issues yesterday.

Two mothers, who gave birth to babies that needed care at the NICU, claimed that the newborns suffered burns to their bodies due to radiation from neonatal phototherapy lamps.

One of the mothers is now demanding compensation, stating that she believes her daughter will be permanently scarred.

However, Dr. Bird, who has experience working in the unit, believes the equipment can fail.

“The equipment can malfunction and is often inspected and should be up to standard,” she said. The nurses did their own monitoring [of the children] when I used to work there so I do not know what could have gone wrong.”

One of the mothers is claiming that her baby was burnt because she was held too close to an ultraviolet phototherapy light.

However, Dr. Bird said she has not heard of such incidents occurring.

“Ultraviolet radiation can be toxic to a developing eye, but I have not personally heard of the NICU light burning somebody. We have special precautions to protect the eyes because the light from the [equipment] has been known to cause damage to the retina. But if the eye guard is removed, the light is turned off immediately and I have not heard of a baby being closely held to the light for warming,” she said.

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