Improving Diaper Performance for Extremely Low-Birth-Weight Infants

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Background. Extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW) infants face significant diapering challenges compared with their full-term peers, due to immature musculature, nervous system, and skin development. Advances in medical care have increased an ELBW infant’s rate of survival, which creates a growing need for diapers to better serve these infants. Aim of research. The objective of this study was to identify and confirm the requirements for optimal diaper performance from the neonatal intensive care unit nurses’ perspective, as well as to assess in-hospital performance to determine if new features improved key developmental care parameters. Method. Two surveys were shared among nurses to address study objectives. Study 1 (N = 151) was designed for neonatal intensive care unit nurses to identify key requirements for ELBW diapers and rate the performance of existing ELBW diapers. Study 2 (N = 99) assessed in-hospital performance of the test diaper compared with the usual diaper, under normal usage conditions. Findings/results. The majority of nurses agreed that ELBW diapers must fit appropriately between the legs so that hips and legs are not spread apart and that ELBW diapers need to be flexible between the legs for positioning. Of the nurses-infant pair responses, 93% (P < .0001) preferred the test ELBW diaper over their usual diaper. Conclusion. Findings suggest that nurses should be included in the product design process to ensure both their needs and the needs of an infant are being met. Nurses are considering how diaper features may affect both acute and long-term medical outcomes and this information provides necessary guidance to diaper manufacturers and designers when developing better-performing diapers.

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