What kind of medical equipment would have been used for preemies in the late 70's?

My youngest was born premature six years ago, and the NICU took fantastic care of him for a couple months until he was ready to come home.

I was also a preemie in 1978 at 2 lbs 3 oz, unfortunately I can’t recall what kind of equipment they had at the time :grin:

I found an article about treatment of preemies through the years, but I’m interested in the technological aspects. Photos would be highly appreciated too.

For my cousin, born 1976, an incubator. At the time they weren’t available in every Spanish hospital and clinic with a maternity wing, but they also weren’t particularly novel.

You may find this article on the history of the neonatal incubator interesting. They’re a late-19th century invention.

I was born premature in the 1960s. Back then, they basically shoved you into an incubator and hoped for the best, and that was about it.

By the late 1970s, they had ventilators for preemies, but those ventilators were still pretty crude by modern standards and a lot of preemies ended up with lung damage. Still the alternative for not using those ventilators is that a preemie with underdeveloped lungs would have died, so the ventilators, as crude as they were, were definitely a big step up from what they had available in my time.

My middle brother was born premature in 1965. He weighed 2 lbs 4.5 oz. He was in an incubator for 3 months, until he reached term. He was the smallest preemie born at the local hospital for many years. He definitely had underdeveloped lungs, that seemed to hinder him somewhat throughout his life.

I didn’t work in a NICU until the early 80’s but at that time, umbilical catheters, oxygen, precise temperature and humidity control, smaller respirators, cardiac monitors, and bilirubin lights with eye protection were all pretty common in the standard incubators. Ultra-fine PICC lines were also not unheard of, if the umbilical vessels were unavailable. 30 gauge needles were used to get lines into tiny scalp veins. Incubator-side ultrasounds could be performed.

Sadly, that’s probably not quite the right language. I suspect your brother reigned as the smallest premature infant born at your local hospital who survived.

I’m not accusing you of this, Big Tom, but lots of people believe that being born premature means you’re just smaller and cuter than the Avery age baby. There’s a reason Cabbage Patch Preemies causes a backlash.

Some family members were really blithe when our oldest son was born nine weeks early at 2 lbs, 9 oz (1164 grams). He dipped below 1000 grams in his first week. It was a terrifying, touch-and-go situation, and some relatives didn’t understand that until my my mother-in-law, a nurse, cornered them and explained the gravity of the situation.

We were incredibly lucky. Some of the other families at the NICU had to bury infants. Surely, there were more families whose children never made it to the NICU.

Oops. “Avery age” in my post above was supposed to be “average.”

Go home, autocorrect. You’re drunk.

EdelweissPirate, I’m sure you are correct, he was the smallest preemie to survive, at that hospital, for some time. I was five when he was born, so mostly remember the nurses holding him near an exterior window, so I could see him. Back then, my parents weren’t even allowed to touch him in the beginning.

Most definitely, our family was incredibly lucky as well. Having to go through those circumstances took quite the toll on my parents. Hoping your preemie survives was not lost on me, even at my young age. Many called his surviving a miracle, me included. The family doctor called him his “little tiger”, because he fought so hard to survive. My heart goes out to all who’ve lost a child, no matter the circumstances.

Thanks, everybody for your replies. I was told I have auditory nerve damage caused by too much oxygen when incubating… I suppose that’s possible. Beyond that, I don’t seem to have any other effects traceable to my time in the Isolette.