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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

New program provides scales to families with NICU babies

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CareSource, a nonprofit health plan, started a program to provide families of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) babies with free scales to monitor their child’s weight. The program is available to all CareSource Indiana Medicaid members.

Dr. Camueal Wright, market chief medical officer for CareSource, said the program helps families stay safe from COVID-19 by reducing the number of times they have to go into the doctor’s office. Advocates say the program will also help working families long after the pandemic is over.

“Families with new babies have a lot on their plate between feedings, diaper changes and laundry,” Emily Scott, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University Health, said in a press release. “It can be difficult for families of infants to get to doctor’s appointments, especially if the baby needs to be seen frequently due to problems gaining weight. When we are able to provide infant scales for families to use at home, medical teams can monitor weight gain easily through virtual visits without the family having to travel in for an appointment.”

Wright recommends weighing a premature infant at least once a week, if not more. Weight is a clear indicator of a baby’s health and ability to adapt to their environment. Wright said if an infant isn’t gaining weight or is losing weight, parents should contact their health care provider immediately to assess whether dietary changes need to be made or if the baby needs to be taken in for evaluation.

Being able to monitor an infant’s weight from home, Wright said, will help keep babies healthy. And, in Indiana — where roughly 600 babies die before their first birthday every year — reducing infant mortality is top of mind for many health care providers.

“What I’m hoping is that we will be able to track the weight of babies very closely, and that will help us know how the baby is doing in its environment,” Wright said. “Doctors can use that information to determine if the baby is having digestive problems or other issues affecting growth, and they can help offset serious consequences, including death of infants in that first year. We want to ease that burden and help improve the overall quality of life for all members.”

To apply for a scale, CareSource patients need a doctor’s order. Once submitted, representatives from J&B Medical Supply will drop off the scale at the patient’s home and help with any questions they have about operating the scale.

For more information, visit caresource.com.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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