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What is the NICU?

NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is a unit for critically ill and sick newborn infants. Babies in the NICU can range from 23 to 35 weeks gestational age (preterm or premature) and 36+ weeks gestational age (full-term).

There are 4 different levels of neonatal intensive care units. They are:

Level 1 NICU
Level 2 NICU
Level 3 NICU
Level 4 NICU

Each level can accommodate a specific degree of complications and illnesses.

For what reasons is a baby admitted to the NICU?

An infant can be admitted to the neonatal ICU for numerous reasons. SOme of the more common ones are listed here:

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
Cerebral Palsy
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Coarctation of the Aorta
Cystic Fibrosis

Diaphragmatic Hernia
Duodenal Atresia
Esophageal Atresia
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Gastroesophageal Reflux
Hirschsprung's Disease
Hydrops Fetalis
Imperforate Anus
Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
Meconium Aspiration
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA)
Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)
Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)
Spina Bifida
Trisomy 18
Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome)
Turner Syndrome
Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

There are many other reasons not listed here, but all can be explained by the nurse, practitioner or doctor in the NICU.

What medical personnel can be found in the NICU?

  • Specialized Doctors called Neonatologists
  • Pediatricians
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP)
  • Specialized Neonatal Nurses
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Nutritionists /Dieticians
  • Lactation Nurses (for breastfeeding help)
What non-medical personnel can be found in the NICU?
  • Social Workers
  • Outcomes Management Workers (Administrative Nurses who handle insurance issues)
  • Spiritual Health /Religious Health Workers
Neonatal Intensive Care Units are the most advanced critical newborn infant care units. They can be overwhelming at first, but parents find comfort in knowing that their baby is being cared for with the the utmost skill and knowledge, and is being given the best chance at recovering from whatever difficult condition that has presented itself to them.