Abu Dhabi: Triplets Mayar, Meera and Mahmoud were born a minute apart from one another and spent 12 days in the neonatal intensive care unit because they were underweight.
Mayar weighed 1.760kg, Meera 2.250kg and Mahmoud weighed 1.770kg.
"Mayar's weight went down to 1.60kg after she was born. During my seventh month of pregnancy I had constant [fever] and pain, I used to vomit blood and had high blood pressure. Upon delivery I panicked when I found my babies underweight, even though doctors assured me that underweight triplets are normal," said Naela Al Jerjawi, a Palestinian.
She spoke to Gulf News during the Third Annual Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Graduates Reunion yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Corniche Hospital where doctors, parents and children gathered to celebrate the babies who were cared for in NICU.
The day was marked for parents to make connections and share stories with other parents who also went through NICU experience and re-unite with the staff who helped take care of the babies.
Dr Adil Shubbar, Consultant Neonatologist, Chief of Neonatal Service, said around 10 per cent of the 11,000 to 12,000 deliveries per year are admitted to NICU at Corniche Hospital.
He said the rise in premature births still remains a mystery in medicine. The increase could be due to the large numbers of multiple births in recent years. Twins and other multiples are about six times more likely to be premature than single birth babies. The number of premature single births has also slightly increased this year.
Three-year-old Hadi Hassan was born through cesarean section at only 26 weeks and weighed 1kg. His weight decreased to 800g for two weeks after birth and was placed in NICU for two months.
"Doctors told us Hadi had a severe allergy from beans. His right hand was also broken upon delivery and he had developed the measles. He was undergoing regular medical check-ups till he turned two. Now he is fine and healthy," said his relieved mother.
Seven-month-old Emirati baby, Esraa Al Ahas, was born with a hole in the heart. Even though Esraa was born on time, she was placed in NICU for 10 days. She was then transferred to London to have an open heart surgery and is now a healthy baby leading a normal life.
Dr Shubbar said todate 152 babies were born between the weight of 500g and 1.5kg. Since 1998, a total of 1,124 babies weighing 500g to 1.500kg were admitted to the hospital.
The length of the average stay in NICU since 2006 todate is 63 days, said Shubbar. "The smaller the baby, the more the stay. NICU takes care of the rest of the healthy 90 per cent deliveries alongside. We make sure babies are examined, vaccinated and tested for minor medical problems," he said.