Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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What is the neonatal intensive care unit? Newborn babies who need intensive medical attention are often admitted into a special area of the hospital called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU combines advanced advanc ed technology technology and trained trained health care professionals professionals to prov provide ide spec specialized ialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sic but do need specialized nursing care. !ome hospitals do not have the personnel or a NICU and babies must be transferred to another hospital. !ome newborn babies will re"uire care in a NICU# and giving birth to a sic or premature baby can be "uite une$pected for any parent. Unfamiliar sights# sounds# and e"uipment in the NICU can be overwhelming. This information is provided to help you understand some of the problems of sic and premature babies. %ou will also &nd out about some of  the procedures that may be needed for the care of your baby baby..

Which babies need special care? 'ost babies admitted to the NICU are premature (born before  wees of pregnancy)# have low birth weight (less than *.* pounds)# or have a medical condition that re"uires special care. In the U.!.# nearly half a million babies are born preterm# and many of  these babies also have low birth weights. Twins# triplets# and other multiples often are admitted to the NICU# as they tend to be born earlier and smaller than single birth babies. babi es. +abies +abies with medica medicall conditi conditions ons such such as heart heart probl problems# ems# infections infections## or birth birth defects are also cared for in the NICU.  The following are some factors that can place a baby at high ris and increase the chan chance ces s of bein being g admit admitte ted d to the NICU NICU.. ,o ,owe weve ver# r# ea each ch baby baby must must be eval evaluat uated ed individually to determine the need for admission. ,igh-ris factors include the following •

Maternal factors:

o

/ge younger than 01 or older than 23 years

o

4rug or alcohol e$posure

o

4iabetes

o

,ypertension (high blood pressure)

o

+leeding

o

!e$ually transmitted diseases

o

'ultiple pregnancy (twins# triplets# or more)  T  Too oo little or too much amniotic 5uid

o

6remature rupture of membranes (also called the amniotic sac or bag of 

o

waters) •

Delivery factors:

 

7etal etal distre distress8b ss8birt irth h asphy$ asphy$ia ia (change (changes s in or organ gan systems systems due to lac lac of 

o

o$ygen) +reech delivery presentation (buttocs delivered &rst) or other abnormal

o

presentation 'eco 'e coniu nium m (the (the ba baby by9s 9s &r &rst st st stoo ooll passe passed d dur durin ing g pr preg egnan nancy cy into into the the

o

o

amniotic 5uid) Nuchal cord (cord around the baby9s nec)

o

7orceps 7orce ps or cesarean delivery



Baby factors:

o

+irth at gestational age less than  wees or more than 2: wees

o

+irth weight less than :#*33 grams (* pounds# ; ounces) or over 2#333 grams (; pounds# 0 ounces)

o

!mall for gestational age

o

'edication or resuscitation in the delivery room

o

+irth defects

o

<espir espirat ator ory y

di dist stre ress ss

inclu includin ding g

ra rapi pid d

br brea eathi thing# ng# grun grunti ting# ng# or

apne apnea a

(stopping breathing) o

Infection such as herpes# group + streptococcus# chlamydia

o

!eizures

o

,ypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

o

Need Ne ed for e$tr e$tra a o$y $yge gen n or monito monitori ring ng## int intra rave venou nous s (I=) (I=) thera therapy py## or medications

o

Need for special treatment or procedures such as a blood transfusion

Who will care for your baby in the NICU?  The following are some of the specially trained health care professionals who will be involved in the care of your baby •

Neonato Neo natologi logist. st. / ped pediat iatric rician ian with addition additional al trainin training g in the car care e of sic sic and premature babies. The neonatologist supervises pediatric fellows and residents# nurse practitioners# and nurses who care for babies in the NICU.



<espiratory therapists



>ccupational therapists



4ietitians

 



?actation consultants



6harmacists



!ocial worers



,ospital chaplains  The members of the NICU team wor together with wi th parents to develop a plan of care for high-ris newborns. /s about the NICUs parent support groups and other programs designed to encourage parental involvement.

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