Categories: Neonates & Pediatrics

Detail overview of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

About the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICUs) has compound equipment, staff and devices for the exclusive needs of little babies. Therefore, the birth of a newborn baby is a brilliant and very difficult process. There are many physical and emotional changes that happen for both baby and mother. A newborn baby must make multiple physical adjustments to life outside the body of the mother. The leaving of mother uterus means that a baby may no longer depend on the blood supply and placenta of the mother for vital body functions.

The baby totally depends on the different functions of the mother before his/her birth. These functions include

  • Breathing
  • Eating
  • Elimination of waste
  • Immune protection.

When a baby leaves the womb of the mother, the body systems of the baby must vary.

For example:

  • The liver starts functioning appropriately.
  • The lungs must breathe air.
  • The cardiac and pulmonary circulation changes.
  • The immune system must start working properly.
  • The gastrointestinal system must start to process food and expel waste.
  • The kidneys must start functioning to balance the fluids and chemicals in the body and ooze waste.

In many cases, a newly born baby has difficulty making the variation outside the womb of the mother. In the case of preterm birth, a problematic birth, or birth deficiencies may make these variations more challenging and complex. But a lot of special care in the intensive care unit is available to help the newly born babies. The aim of the intensive care unit is to deliver admirable care to critically ill babies and children in surroundings that are sensitive to the baby’s needs and the family. There are two different units that are work organized closely:

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The newly born babies who need intensive medical care are frequently placed in a special care area of the hospital called the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The latest/advanced technology and well-trained healthcare experts in NICU are available to give extraordinary care for the tiniest patients.

Therefore, NICU can also provide care areas for newly born babies who are not as sick but have need particular nursing care. Hence, many hospitals may not have the professional well-trained staff for a NICU and then babies must be moved to a new hospital. The newly born babies who need serious care do better if they are born in a hospital with a NICU than if they are shifted after birth.

Few newborn babies will need attention in a NICU. The birth of a sick or preterm baby is always unanticipated for any parent. The NICU can be overwhelming.

Which babies need special care?

Most of the babies admitted to the NICU are due to

  • Preterm i.e. they born before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Have low birth weight i.e. less than 5.5 pounds
  • Health complaint i.e. needs special care

In the U.S., almost half a million babies are born preterm. Many new-born babies also have low birth weights. The twins, triplets, and other multiples frequently are shifted to the NICU because they tend to be born before and smaller than single birth offspring.

The babies with health-related conditions such as breathing issues, cardiac problems, infections, or birth abnormalities are also cared for in the NICU.

Some factors are given below that can place a baby at high risk and rises the probabilities of being shifted to the NICU. Therefore, each baby must be evaluated if he or she needs the NICU. High-risk factors include the below.

  1. Motherly factors

  • Being younger than age 16 or elder than age 40
  • Drug use
  • Alcohol use
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Hemorrhage
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or triplets)
  • Too little amniotic fluid
  • Too much amniotic fluid
  • Premature rupture of amniotic sac

  1. Delivery factors

  • Changes in organ systems of the baby due to lack of oxygen
  • Breech birth
  • The first stool of the baby i.e. meconium passed during the pregnancy into the amniotic fluid
  • Nuchal cord i.e. the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck of the baby
  • Cesarean delivery
  1. Baby factors

  • Baby delivered at gestational age of less than 37 weeks or more than 42 weeks
  • The baby weight less than five pounds, eight ounces or over eight pounds, thirteen ounces
  • Medication or synthetic respiration in the delivery room
  • Birth abnormalities
  • Respiratory distress comprising the fast inhalation or expiration, grunting, or discontinuing breathing known as apnea
  • Infection such as herpes or chlamydia
  • Seizures
  • Low blood sugar
  • Severe jaundice
  • If there is need of any additional oxygen or observing, IV therapy, or medicines
  • When there is altered treatment or measures such as a transfusion of blood

Who will responsible for the care of babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?

The extremely qualified healthcare personnel who will provide care for baby include:

  • Neonatologist

A pediatrician with additional training in the care of sick and premature babies. The neonatologist frequently known as attending physician, administers pediatric colleagues and residents, medical practitioners, and nurses who care for newly born or other babies in the NICU.

  • Pharmacists

Pharmacists play a key role in dose adjustment and monitoring medicine interactions or side effects. They help in the NICU by supporting the care providers to select the best medicines. The pharmacists monitor and check the medicine doses and levels. They keep the team conscious of possible side or adverse effects and monitoring that may be desired.

  • Neonatal fellow

This is a pediatrician having additional training for caring the sick and premature babies.

  • Pediatric resident

A doctor who is having further training for the care of children.

  • Neonatal nurse practitioner

A registered nurse with additional training in the care of neonatal. He or she can do measures and help straight child’s care.

  • Respiratory therapist

A person with special training in giving respiratory provision. This includes handling breathing machineries and oxygen.

  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists

These therapists make sure a newly born baby is developing well. They also help with care comprising positioning and relaxing methods. The speech therapists comfort babies learn to eat by mouth.

  • Dietitians

Dietitians guarantee the babies are developing healthy and getting good nourishment. They watch the intake of baby (calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals).

  • Lactation consultants

They are healthcare workers with additional training and authorization in helping women and babies breastfeed. They can help with pumping, retaining milk supply, and starting and continuing breastfeeding.

  • Social workers

Social workers help relatives deal with many stuffs when a baby is ill. They give sensitive support. The social workers help families get figures from healthcare workers. They may care the family with other supplementary elementary care needs, too. These can include money difficulties, transport issues, or organizing home-based healthcare.

NICU team members work organized and together with parents to create a plan of care for high-risk neonates.

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