Doctors took an increasing role in childbirth from the eighteenth century onward. However, the care of newborn babies, sick or well, remained largely in the hands of mothers and midwives. Some baby incubators, similar to those used for hatching chicks, were devised in the late nineteenth century. In the United States, these were shown at commercial exhibitions, complete with babies inside, until 1931. Dr A. Robert Bauer MD at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, successfully combined oxygen, heat, humidity, ease of accessibility, and ease of nursing care in 1931. It was not until after the that special-care baby units (SCBUs) were established in many hospitals. In Britain, early SCBUs opened in Birmingham and Bristol. At Southmead Hospital, Bristol, initial opposition from obstetricians lessened after quadruplets born there in 1948 were successfully cared for in the new unit. More resources became available: The first unit had been set up with £100. Most early units had little equipment and relied on careful nursing and observation.
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Doctors and researchers have yet to agree on the cause of cradle cap. However, there is agreement that it's not caused by infection, allergy or poor hygiene. One theory is that overactive sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies release more oil due to the hormones from their mothers' bodies. The oil causes the flakes of skin to stick to the scalp, instead of drying up and falling off.
Not only careful nursing but also new techniques and instruments now played a major role. As in adult intensive-care units, the use of monitoring and life-support systems became routine. These needed special modification for small babies, whose bodies were tiny and often immature. Adult ventilators, for example, could damage babies' lungs and gentler techniques with smaller pressure changes were devised. The many tubes and sensors used for monitoring the baby's condition, blood sampling and artificial feeding made some babies scarcely visible beneath the technology. Furthermore, by 1975, over 18% of newborn babies in Britain were being admitted to NICUs. Some hospitals admitted all babies delivered by , or under 2500 g in weight. The fact that these babies missed early close contact with their mothers was a growing concern. The 1980s saw questions being raised about the human, and the economic costs of too much technology. Admission policies gradually changed. In addition, treating low-birth-weight infants is expensive, especially when there are much cheaper ways of ensuring healthy babies. The key is prevention. Money can be spent on programs educating mothers on staying healthy during their pregnancy. One program (one that encourages women to stop smoking) is one-third the price of neonatal intensive care and has been proven to work. During this program, a significant number of women often quit.