Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
Newborn babies who need intensive medical care are often put in a special area of the hospital called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The NICU has advanced technology and trained healthcare professionals to give special care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also care areas for babies who are not as sick but do need specialized nursing care. Some hospitals don’t have the staff for a NICU and babies must be moved to another hospital. Babies who need intensive care do better if they are born in a hospital with a NICU than if they are moved after birth.
Some newborn babies will require care in a NICU. Giving birth to a sick or premature baby can be unexpected for any parent. The NICU can be overwhelming. This information is to help you understand why a baby may need to be in the NICU. You will also find out about some of the procedures that may be needed for the care of your baby.
Most babies admitted to the NICU are preterm (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), or have a health condition that needs special care. In the U.S., nearly half a million babies are born preterm. Many of these babies also have low birth weights. Twins, triplets, and other multiples often are admitted to the NICU. This is because they tend to be born earlier and smaller than single birth babies. Babies with health conditions such as breathing trouble, heart problems, infections, or birth defects are also cared for in the NICU.
NICU team members work together with parents to create a plan of care for high-risk newborns. Ask about the NICU’s parent support groups and other programs designed to help parents.
DR. CHIRAG GARASIA