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June 22, 2022

NICU- When Newborns need critical care

NICU- When Newborns need critical care

The moment of birth is truly a miracle. The baby, which had been totally dependent on the mother for all functions, must make critical system changes to survive. These major changes must occur within minutes of birth and the new systems must work together seamlessly for the baby to become a fully functional independent being. When there is delay in adaptation, or if there is any problem with any system, then the baby will require critical care.

Some of the vital changes that must be established on birth include:

  • Breathing and lung function
  • Cardiac and pulmonary circulation
  • Liver and immune system function
  • Digestion and excretion
  • Kidney function

The adaptation to life outside the womb may be difficult for some babies. Babies born prematurely, babies with birth defects or babies enduring a difficult birth may have difficulties in making all the systems fully functional immediately. Such babies need critical care in an NICU, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Why are some babies born with critical conditions?

There are numerous factors that could hinder healthy development and overall health of a baby till birth. Some of the risk factors are:

  • Mother’s age below 16 or over 40
  • Drug or alcohol abuse by the mother
  • Diabetes, hypertension or other chronic disease affecting the mother
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins or more)
  • Sexually transmitted infection in mother
  • Too little or too much amniotic fluid
  • Early rupture of amniotic sac
  • Bleeding
  • Lack of oxygen due to delayed breathing of baby at birth
  • Breech birth where baby is born in an abnormal position
  • Wrapping of umbilical cord around neck of baby at birth
  • Forceps delivery

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

An NICU is an intensive care unit specially designed to cater to a newborn’s critical health requirement. It is equipped with advanced technology and has healthcare professionals specially trained in caring for infants.

In the NICU, a Neonatologist will care for the baby with critical needs. Neonatologists are paediatricians who have undergone special training to treat sick and premature babies. They direct and supervise the complete treatment and guide the residents and paediatric nurses.

The team may include:

Respiratory therapist to manage breathing equipment and oxygen

Physical, Occupational and Speech therapists who ensure that the baby is positioned and soothed correctly, and learns to feed by mouth

Dietitian who ensures that the baby gets right and adequate nourishment

Lactation consultants who help mothers pump breastmilk to feed the baby and maintain milk supply, and later, to start and continue breastfeeding

NICU care is provided for

  • Babies born before completion of 37 weeks or later than 42 weeks
  • Babies with birth weight less than 2.5 Kg or more than 4 kg
  • Babies born with birth defects
  • Babies born with medical conditions such as breathing or heart problems
  • Babies sickened by infection
  • Babies requiring medicine or resuscitation at birth
  • Babies having seizures
  • Babies needing monitoring, oxygen, medicines, blood transfusion or special procedures

No matter what the condition, our NICU team works to provide the best care for high-risk newborns. With the right support they can overcome their health problems to develop into healthy and thriving babies.

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