The challenges of a preemie: Children's Hospital is your ally

The challenges of a preemie: Children's Hospital is your ally

“Just like you need a team in the NICU to get your baby ready to come home, you need a team once you are home to make sure the transition is smooth.” This is what I often tell new parents visiting our NICU Graduate Clinic for the first time. Over the past four decades, significant advances in neonatal medicine have allowed our neonatologists to save babies as young as 23 weeks gestation, and many families face the challenging transition home with medically complex, fragile babies.

With a preterm birth rate of 13.5 percent, many of our local New Orleans families are affected by these unique struggles. While "graduating" from the NICU is a huge milestone, at Children's Hospital New Orleans, we know this can be a bittersweet moment for premature infants and their families. Often, babies may leave the NICU with special medical equipment or unfamiliar medications, and parents, excited to bring their babies home, are left wondering how they will care for their fragile infants.

Luckily at Children’s Hospital, we have a wide variety of services available to smooth this transition home! Our vast array of specialists ensures each baby's unique needs are met - from ophthalmology making sure eyes develop properly, to neurology monitoring brain growth, and a network of speech, physical and occupational therapists to support each child's development. Through our NICU Graduate Clinic, we use a multidisciplinary model to support each family in ensuring quality primary and subspecialty care, monitoring growth, nutritional and lactation needs, assessing developmental trajectory and meeting each family's social needs. We value what makes each baby special, and work diligently to provide high-quality, individualized care so that each baby reaches their full potential!

Dr. Meghan Howell

Dr. Meghan Howell is a pediatrician at Tulane-Lakeside Pediatrics, as well as the clinical director for the NICU Graduate Clinic. Dr. Howell completed her medical degree and residency training, including a chief resident year, at Tulane University School of Medicine. She is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics. Her clinical and academic interest is in the long term care of medically complex infants and children, including those born premature, substance-exposed or with other special healthcare needs. "The most rewarding aspect of my job is using a team-based approach to empower families of children with special needs to take charge of their child's health. I love watching a parent grow and effectively advocate for their unique child, and I love working alongside parents to ensure that their child is off to a healthy start!"