When babies have difficult birth or health problems or are born early, they are admitted to the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Many of these babies have difficulty carrying out independent body functions outside the mother’s womb. These include pulmonary and cardiac circulation changes, breathing through the lungs, managing body waste through the kidneys and more. These babies can receive around-the-clock care from experts in the neonatal intensive care unit. Here is all you need to know about its significance.
What Happens in the NICU?
In a neonatal intensive care unit, specialised treatment is provided to sick newborns. They are generally admitted within 24 hours after birth to the unit. The duration of their stay depends on their health condition. The unit houses medical staff, particularly trained in neonatal care and advanced equipment designed to treat infants.
A wide range of healthcare providers works in the unit. Say, your baby is admitted to the NICU of a maternity hospital in Hyderabad. In that case, the unit will have doctors ranging from neonatologists to paediatricians in Hyderabad. Nurses also constantly look after the admitted babies.
A Level-III facility has state-of-the-art technology including modern monitoring facilities and incubators for quality neonatal care. In an isolation neonatal intensive care unit, more critical cases are handled.
Experienced technicians and blood gas analysers facilitate ventilator management of neonates who require breathing support. Generally, infant radiant warmers (with inbuilt safety features) and phototherapy units are also present as other state-of-the-art facilities.
When Is Neonatal Intensive Care Needed?
Neonatal intensive care is required for the following maternal factors:
- Having an age below 16 or above 40
- Multiple pregnancies (twins or more)
- Premature rupture of membranes or amniotic sac
- Too little or too much amniotic fluid
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Drug or alcohol use
A baby may have to be admitted to the NICU because of delivery factors like:
- Breech position (in which baby’s buttocks are delivered first) or other unusual positions
- Foetal distress or birth asphyxia (changes in the baby’s organ systems due to inadequate oxygen)
- Nuchal cord (when the umbilical cord is entwined around the baby’s neck)
- Meconium (when the baby’s first stool is passed into your amniotic fluid during pregnancy)
- A cesarean delivery
Conditions of babies that need neonatal care include:
- Birth weight more than 4,000 g or below 2,500 g
- Too small size for gestational age
- Baby born at a gestational age of above 42 weeks or under 37 weeks
- Medicine or resuscitation in the delivery room
- Birth defects
- Infections like herpes, group B streptococcus or chlamydia
- Respiratory distress like rapid breathing, apnea (stopping to breathe) or grunting
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Requirement for special treatment or procedures like a blood transfusion
- Need for intravenous (IV) therapy, medicines, oxygen or extra monitoring
If you need to consult a paediatrician in Hyderabad after having your little one treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, you can contact the professional in the same maternity hospital in the city. Just make sure to visit a reputed maternity and children’s hospital.