A MATERNITY unit has been inundated with special red woolly hats to reduce the number of newborn babies admitted to intensive care thanks to kind-hearted Daily Echo readers.

Poole Hospital’s team said more than 2,000 have been sent in since the appeal was launched six weeks ago – with up to 50 a day arriving from as far as Suffolk, Cardiff and Dundee.

St Mary’s maternity hospital lead midwife Christine Pearse introduced the unique idea after hearing of its effectiveness in other hospitals.

The red hats are an effective way of keeping babies warm in the first few hours after birth when babies come from a warm womb into the world. New born babies are at an increased risk of hypothermia in the first 12 hours.

But some babies need a little extra attention, perhaps because they have a complication like a respiratory condition, jaundice or an abnormal blood glucose levels, and the red hats provide a visual prompt to all staff that the baby needs closer observation than is usually required.

It is hoped the hats will reduce the number of babies who are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit because they develop complications. Each year, around four per cent of babies born full term are admitted to the unit, and around a quarter of these because the baby was cold or not maintaining blood sugar levels.

Christine Pearse said she was staggered by the response from the public.

“It has been incredible.

“We know when Poole Hospital appeals for knitters to show their support they rise to the challenge, as they have done with octopi and memory mitts in the past, but this has exceeded all expectations.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has made one – every single hat makes a difference.”

Christine estimates the unit needs around 2,000 hats, which are given to the family to take home, each year.

For a copy of the knitting pattern visit poole.nhs.uk