“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” - Horton, Dr. Seuss

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Foundation for Premature InfantsOur Mission

To advocate for the right of all premature infants to be cared for in a developmentally supportive manner.

Foundation for Premature InfantsOur Vision

To ensure that the premature infant Bill of Rights is the standard of care for all babies born prematurely, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, on all shifts, in every Neonatal Intensive Care Unit throughout the world.

Foundation for Premature InfantsRecommended Websites

Caring Essentials
www.caringessentials.org

Creative Therapy Consultants
www.creativetherapyconsultants.com

European Foundation for the Care of Infants
www.efcni.org

Graham’s Foundation
www.grahamsfoundation.org

Neonatal Therapists
www.neontaltherapists.com

NICU Training Module
www.otptinthenicu.com

Nurtured by Design
www.nurturedbydesign.com

Preemie World
www.preemieworld.com

Zoe Rose
www.zoerose.org

Show Me the Science

Foundation for Premature Infants

Foundation for Premature InfantsThe Foundation for Premature Infants Team

Mary Coughlin

Mary Coughlin

Mary has authored or co-authored numerous papers, is a recognized speaker and expert on developmentally supportive care, and she is the President & Global Education Officer (GEO) of Caring Essentials Collaborative.

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Michael Litten

Michael Litten

Michael David Litten started his career in healthcare 34 years ago. He has been blessed to represent products and companies that make a difference in people’s lives. Michael’s passion for premature infants was the genesis of the Foundation for Premature Infants.

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AnnMarie Pulkkila

AnnMarie Pulkkila

AnnMarie has had extensive professional and personal experience with the healthcare system. As a burn survivor, her journey from small child to adult set the course for her professional aspiration to become a nurse.

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Laura Sidelinger

Laura Sidelinger

Laura Cordell Sidelinger is an Occupational Therapist, graduating from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) with a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration. She has over 20 years of experience working with patients in hospital, home, and outpatient settings.

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Foundation for Premature InfantsMary Coughlin, MS, APN, CCRN

Mary Coughlin started her nursing career over 25 years ago in the US Air Force Nurse Corps caring for adults. As her military career diversified, she discovered the field of neonatal nursing, which has become her passion for the past 20+ years—and counting. Within the field of neonatal nursing, a care philosophy exists that acknowledges the human frailties, vulnerabilities, and needs of this fragile population. This philosophy of care is called developmental care.

Over the past six years, Mary has had the privilege to collaborate with internationally recognized clinical experts and made significant contributions to the ever-expanding body of knowledge relative to developmentally supportive care in the neonatal intensive care unit.

She has authored or co-authored numerous papers, is a recognized speaker and expert on developmentally supportive care, and is the President and Global Education Officer (GEO) of Caring Essentials Collaborative. She came to the realization that core caring actions, attitudes, and behaviors (the basic tenets of developmental care) transcend the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This realization prompted the creation of Caring Essentials Collaborative as an opportunity and a vehicle to disseminate information and engage healthcare professionals to implement and evaluate the profound impact of evidence-based caring actions, attitudes, and behaviors on the hospitalized individual, the family, and healthcare providers globally.

Foundation for Premature InfantsMichael David Litten

Michael David Litten started his career in healthcare 34 years ago. He has been blessed to represent products and companies that make a difference in people’s lives. For the last 5 years and counting, he has been working with Children’s Medical Ventures (ChMV), now Philips Healthcare. Since 1991, Children’s Medical Ventures has been committed to improving the developmental outcomes of hospitalized infants worldwide by offering solutions to help clinicians help every baby reach his or her full developmental potential.

When ChMV was founded back in 1991, developmental care was in its infancy, “miracle babies” weighted 1,000 grams, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was bright and noisy, and babies were routinely cared for by being placed flat on their back. Over the years, amazing changes in the care offered to premature and hospitalized infants has taken place. Developmental care practices are becoming more widely recognized throughout the world as an essential part of infant care. Babies are surviving at lower weights, and the NICU is becoming an increasingly more nurturing environment for babies and their families.

Unfortunately, for far too many of the more than 500,000 premature infants born in the United States, care has not changed much since 1991. Michael’s passion for these most fragile vulnerable human beings was the genesis of the Foundation for Premature Infants, Inc. 501 (c) (3). His vision is for the Foundation to be the voice for those without a voice, premature infants. Michael believes that the Foundation can be an advocate for premature infants, assuring that their voices are heard and their needs are met in a developmentally supportive way.

Foundation for Premature InfantsAnnMarie Pulkkila, RN

AnnMarie has had extensive professional and personal experience with the healthcare system. As a burn survivor, her journey from small child to adult set the course for her professional aspiration to become a nurse with the goal of helping empower healthcare consumers in their time of great need, as well as assisting clinicians to understand the great opportunity and responsibility to provide superior quality care.

As a newly licensed Registered Nurse, AnnMarie knew she wanted to be with premature babies. She spent 16 years in the Neonatal Intensive Care specialty where she discovered her love for the fragile, vulnerable babies and their families. She likes to tell others that she “grew up” in the unit. There is so much to learn about life in an environment that deals with the fragility of life involving the babies, families, and caregivers. She deepened her dedication to this population by attaining Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program (NIDCAP) certification to allow her to support the development of premature babies and to communicate those needs to practitioners and families.

AnnMarie utilized her nursing experience within a global healthcare company where she continued to represent the needs of the neonatal population through specialized product and quality improvement offerings. With over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, she continues to raise the bar for herself through the pursuit of higher education, as well as advocating for the needs and rights of all people.

Foundation for Premature InfantsLaura Cordell Sidelinger, MS, OTR/L

Laura Cordell Sidelinger is an Occupational Therapist, with a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration. She has over 20 years of experience working with patients in hospital, home, and outpatient settings. She began her career at Saint Joseph’s Hospital (SJHA) in 1988 where she treated critically ill, neurological, orthopedic, oncological, renal, and transplant recipients. In 1990, she received SJHA’s highest employee recognition, the Mother McCauley Award for providing outstanding delivery of care. She functioned also as Clinical Faculty to Occupational Therapy schools including Brenau University and Medical College of Georgia. She continued to work in the Northside Hospital system and is currently employed with Sundance Rehabilitation.

Her love for the neonate deepened with the birth of her three daughters. Since 2000, she has immersed herself in clinical education, specializing in oral motor assessment and intervention, breastfeeding, sensory integration, and normal/abnormal development. Her career has focused on working with the geriatric population, but she knows she will one day put her training into practice and fulfill her dream of working with premature infants.

She loves her patients and has become keenly aware that we are all part of the circle of life. Laura believes the fundamentals of the Premature Infant Bill of Rights apply to senior adult patients as well.

Foundation for Premature InfantsDid you know?

520,000 Premature Infants are Born Each Year

12%The percentage of babies
born prematurely in the U.S.A.

6%The percentage increase
from 1998 – 2008.

$26Billions of dollars
spent annually on preemies.

Foundation for Premature InfantsCommon Premature Infant Complications

BPD – Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia sometimes called chronic lung disease. A child is not born with BPD. It is something that develops as a consequence of prematurity and progressive lung inflammation.

IVH – Intraventricular Hemorrhage is a bleeding of the brain’s ventricular system. This type of hemorrhage is particularly common in infants, specially premature infants or those of very low birth weight (VLBW).

ROP – Retinopathy of Prematurity is a disease of the eye that affects prematurely born babies. All preterm babies are at risk for ROP, and very low birth weight (VLBW) is an additional risk factor. ROP can lead to blindness.


Stevie Wonder suffers from Retinopathy of Prematurity

increasingly, research is showing that creating a care environment that more closely mimics a mother’s womb can improve the outcomes of our smallest patients.

The brain of a 24 week premature infant looks like this…

Brain of 24 week old baby

The brain of a 40 week full term infant looks like this…

Brain of 40 week old baby

Foundation for Premature InfantsPremature Infant Bill of Rights

  • I have a right to expect that my caregivers’ practices reflect evidence-based best practice.
  • I have the right to be considered an active participant in my life capable of feeling and responding in all situations.
  • I will be cared for in a developmentally supportive way and a measurement tool will be used to ensure consistency of my care.
  • I have the right to an environment that protects my vision and hearing by maintaining sound and light levels within recommended levels.
  • I will drive my feeding schedule not doctors or nurses and a feeding readiness scale will be used to ensure that I am in control.
  • My family can visit me at any time.
  • My family can participate in all activities that involve me.
  • I can enjoy kangaroo care any time my family wants, emergency situations being the obvious exception.
  • My care will be standardized across all shifts by all clinical staff that interacts with me.
  • My care will be clustered so that my precious sleep cycles are minimally disturbed.
  • I have the right to know a pain scale will be used to minimize causing me pain.
  • I have the right to expect that all my caregivers will keep in mind as Horton said, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
  • I have the right to be discharged home as soon as medically appropriate and not be kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit one day longer because it may be financially beneficial to the hospital.
Foundation for Premature InfantsClick here to download the Premature Infant Bill of Rights in PDF Format for your birth plan.

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The first 50 donations over $100 will receive a Horton stuffed animal generously donated by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.
Horton

Donations to the Foundation Will in Part be Used to:

First and foremost advocate for premature infants

Fund Quality Improvement programs

Train and educate clinicians on evidence based developmentally supportive care practices

Offer scholarships to attend developmentally supportive conferences and programs

Fund Quality Improvement studies

Donations are tax-deductible contributions