38th Annual Neonatology Conference Draws a Global Audience of Pediatric Professionals
Practitioners from all over the world gathered last week at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach for the 38th annual Miami Neonatology conference, sponsored by the Miller School of Medicine and presented by the Department of Pediatrics’ Division of Neonatology. This year’s theme, “Advances in Respiratory Care,” featured two dozen of the field’s leading experts sharing the latest research and clinical knowledge in a series of presentations and panel sessions.
“We have 1,200 people from 50 countries here, and our speakers come from 11 countries,” said an obviously pleased Charles R. Bauer, M.D., professor of pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology and psychology, Associate Director of the Division of Neonatology and Director of the Early Steps Program, who was one of the conference’s two co-directors. “Many of our attendees come every year. Some group practices trade off among their members so everyone has a chance to attend.”
“Our attendees look forward to it because it’s a real knowledge-sharing event,” said the conference’s other co-director, Eduardo H. Bancalari, M.D., professor of pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology and Director of the Division of Neonatology. “It is significant to them that the program includes speakers from premiere institutions around the world.”
An example of the program’s high level was Bancalari’s own presentation, “Minimally Invasive Respiratory Support in the VLBW [very low birth weight] Infant: Are we ready for it?” In the presentation, Bancalari outlined the latest research findings on respiratory support for the tiniest of patients. Some of his findings, in brief: Many very premature infants can be managed with either continuous or intermittent positive airway pressure from birth, but it is difficult to predict which will fail non-invasive support and require intubation and mechanical ventilation. Success depends on gestational age, severity of lung disease, respiratory drive and the treatment team’s attitude and skills. More trials are needed, he told the audience, to better match patients with the best equipment and treatment options.
“The Department of Pediatrics is proud to sponsor this annual conference,” said Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., associate professor and Interim Chair of Pediatrics. “Just as our research resonates beyond our borders, our educational mission has always been worldwide. I am grateful to Drs. Bancalari and Bauer, and their entire team for building a global learning collaborative in neonatology.”
Attendees were universally enthusiastic about the quality of the presentations. One of the strongest endorsements came from Khaled Almannaei, M.D., who practices at Maternity Hospital in Kuwait.
“This is my second year at this conference, and I flew 16 hours to be here. That should tell you how much I value the presentations. I attend because I know I am going to hear the latest research findings in neonatology.”
For Miller School alumnus Mark W. Fowler, M.D., who practices at Inova Children’s Hospital in Fairfax, Va., attending the conference, which he has done several times, “is like coming home. It’s very relevant to my practice, and it helps me refocus, because the cases presented are ones we commonly see.”
Daniel Sandler, M.D., from Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., was at his fourth conference.
“Dr. Bancalari has a tremendous reputation in our field, and he gets great speakers from all over the world,” he said. “The comments made in the case discussions are very helpful, too. Not everything is cut and dried in clinical practice — you often have to make what you believe is the best choice from several options.”
Karis Fahrer, B.S.N., and Suzette Coulton, R.N., nurses at Miami Children’s Hospital, were both attending the conference for the second time.
“We’re here looking for the newest information from the smartest people in the world in neonatology,” said Fahrer. “This is a relatively new field, and there are still so many unknowns. For instance, I learned from one presentation that early nutrition has turned out to be more critical than we have traditionally believed.”
“This conference is repeatedly the best I have ever attended in our field,” added Coulton. “One of its values is learning about the latest in research and best practices from other countries. The differences help broaden our knowledge.”
The conference received educational support from Mead Johnson Nutrition, CareFusion and Chiesi. Exhibitors — the American Academy of Pediatrics, Covidien, Discovery Labs, Draeger, Elsevier, GE, Ikaria, Isoprime Corp., Karger: Medical & Scientific Publishers; Kubtec Digital X-Ray, Marketing Lasma SAS, Masimo, Medela, MedImmune, Prolacta Bioscience and Vapotherm, Inc. — said it was one of the most important conferences they attended.
“This conference has a global following because it is known for presenting state-of-the-art information,” said Kevin Thibodeau, Vice President of International Sales at Vapotherm. The company was exhibiting for the first time, presenting its high-flow support system for respiratory therapy.
Fourth-time exhibitor Masimo was showing off its fast, sensitive newborn sensors, which provide instant cardio-respiratory data, even if the infant is moving.
“We are here to meet with practitioners, but also with other exhibitors because some of them have our technology built into their incubators,” said Federico Ugalde Prada, M.D., clinical sales representative for Central America, Colombia and Venezuela. “This conference attracts many of the top people we need to see.”
An excellent example is Masimo partner General Electric, a 15-time exhibitor that was showing off its incubator line.
“We come because of Bancalari’s reputation in Latin America,” said Martin Fajando, Product Specialist for Maternal Infant Care. “We have a very high-end product line, and the association is important to us.”
Additional Miller School faculty from the Division of Neonatology presenting at the conference were Maria Buch, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and Associate Director of the Special Care Nursery; Nelson Claure, Ph.D., M.Sc., research associate professor and Director of the Neonatal Pulmonary Laboratory; Shahnaz Duara, M.D., professor of pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology and Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; Deepak Jain, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; Teresa Del Moral, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics; Cristina T. Navarrete, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics; Ilene R.S. Sosenko, M.D., professor of pediatrics and obstetrics-gynecology and Director of the Fellowship Training Program; Shu Wu, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics; and Karen C. Young, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics. Other Miller School speakers were Ruben Quintero, M.D., voluntary professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Director of the Jackson Fetal Therapy Institute; and Juan Sola, M.D., professor of surgery and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery in the Dewitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery.