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Tracking Preemies: August 22, 2011

Ellie Gillespie is growing up fast…

“She came eight weeks early and it was a total surprise and she was very small she only weighed 3 pounds,” says mother Erin Gillespie.

We first met her when she was 9 months old, now the former preemie has passed her first birthday.

“She’s on track with a lot of her motor skills, the developmental center really checks her out to make sure that she is hitting those milestones,” says Erin.

Ellie is a client at Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida’s Neonatal Development Follow-up Clinic.

“It was so helpful because it is hard when you see her growing and you know she’s a little behind and you see other people’s children or you read the books and it says you know this month they should do this and you know at 6 months they should do that,” says Erin.

Experts find that by tracking preemies they can better spot and avoid future health problems. Beginning with muscle tone and reflexes, even the tiniest babies get a full evaluation.

“We try to see her first visit at two month adjusted age so the child might be 5 months old but when we do the math and we get an adjusted age they’re 2 months,” says Sherri Campbell, Nurse Practitioner with the Neonatal Development Follow-up Clinic.

Babies make a return trip every few months.

“We check them, we’re really picky about them achieving those goals and if they’re not doing well in any particular area we send them to physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech and we’ll get back on track,” says Campbell.

“If we can identify something early on that needs treatment or surgery or whatever to avoid long term affects that’s what we’re here to do,” says Campbell.

Ellie is progressing, one step at a time…

“One of the developmental stages is can she clap two objects together so we work on that,” says Erin.

And about to take her first baby steps.

“It does make me feel better to see her moving around on her own,” says Erin.