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Mar 30, 2017

Healthy Living Speaks to Belize’s Sole Neonatologist

In Healthy Living tonight, we introduce you to a neonatologist.  Now, neonatology is a medical field that is not common in Belize but it is certainly a specialized one. Doctor Elsie Constanza is perhaps the only practicing neonatologist in the local health system. She is a highly trained doctor who treats babies who are born prematurely or are critically ill at birth and up to the first month of life.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Pediatricians do an excellent job at solving most health problems in newborns; but when it comes to handling the most complex and high-risk situations a neonatologist can offer even more specialized care. Belizean Doctor Elsie Constanza is a practicing pediatrician and neonatologist in Belize.


Elsie Constanza

Dr. Elsie Constanza, Neonatologist/Pediatrician

“As a neonatologist we specialize in newborns, so actually our concentration with newborn babies, especially with preterm babies, critically ill babies, but we also do term babies and healthy babies  As long as they are newborns, newborns are categorized as baby who live through the first month of life from zero to twenty-eight days of life.”


This delicate practice of caring for critically ill babies also includes working closely with parents before and after delivery.


Dr. Elsie Constanza

“In those cases of high risk pregnancies, of course theses cases the obstetricians are the ones who take manage these cases but the obstetrician should consult with us in those special high risk cases. So we can – as a team -go and talk to the mommy about what the role of the neonatologist is. So once mom is diagnosed with a pathology like hypertension of diabetes for example. Then we need to talk to her and let her know that your baby have the risk of this and has a risk of that during pregnancy we also need to try monitor throughout your pregnancy how the baby heart is going and how it is growing.  The screening here in Belize is quite deficient. So ideally it would be that these babies would have a prenatal diagnosis of any congenital anomalies be it heart anomalies, gastrointestinal anomalies, so in these cases of babies that are born with, for example with a heart defect and has no prenatal diagnosis. That is why it’s important for us; we need to do a comprehensive physical exam on these babies.”


One of the areas of specialized care provided by neonatologist is when babies are born before their bodies are ready to leave the womb. Typically these premature babies spend a substantial amount of time in a NICU until their bodies and organs can function on their own. Doctor Constanza says parents must note that after care is just as important after the babies have been discharged.


Dr. Elsie Constanza

“These premature babies, we need to continue working continuously on the growth and development of these babies, especially nutrition. The thing is that these babies were already born premature; they were already deprived from many macronutrients and micronutrients. So, we need to continue guarantee that these vitamins, these nutrients, these proteins, amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates these babies now get once they are discharged. So it’s how much we’re giving them too because it’s not good to give them a lot. It’s not good to give them too little either.  These are the pillars to have a healthy baby later on is to work on a correct nutrition on these babies.”


Doctor Constanza practices as a pediatrician privately and still offers her neonatal services for all babies.


Dr. Elsie Constanza

“We are specialized in the follow up in these high risk groups of babies and term babies too. Because a baby might be born term looks well but then later on in three weeks time something might come out; something might show up. So, all these babies in the first month of life should be seen, at least once, by a neonatologist.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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