Your milk is best, but it's not always complete with the nutritional needs of very small premature babies or some very sick newborns.
Apnea is a term that means breathing has stopped for more than 20 seconds. It can happen in full-term babies, but it is more common in premature babies. The more premature the baby, the greater the chances that apnea will occur.
Each newborn baby is carefully checked at birth for signs of problems or complications.
A birth defect is a health problem or abnormal physical change that is present when a baby is born. Birth defects can be very mild, where the baby looks and acts like any other baby. Or birth defects can be more severe.
Detailed information on birth defects, including their cause and frequency
Premature babies who get breastmilk develop better eyesight. They also often do better on intelligence tests as they grow older.
Detailed information on birth injury, including the most common types of birth injury
Detailed information on blood disorders that place a newborn at higher risk and require clinical care by a physician or other healthcare professional
A baby may have the blood type and Rh factor of either parent, or a combination of both parents.
Detailed information on breastfeeding the high-risk newborn
Detailed information on caring for babies in the NICU
Detailed information on common conditions and complications of the high-risk newborn
Read on for a detailed look at different kinds of congenital heart defects and treatments, as well as transitioning teens from pediatric to adult cardiac care.
Detailed information on the most common chromosomal abnormalities
Cleft lip and palate are openings or splits in the upper lip or roof of the mouth (palate). A child can be born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, or both. Cleft lip and palate may be the only birth defects, or they may happen with other defects.
CMV (cytomegalovirus) is a herpes virus. It is very common. It affects people of all ages and in all parts of the U.S. In most cases CMV causes mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. But it can cause serious problems in an unborn baby or newborn.
Detailed information on the most common disorders of the brain and nervous system in high-risk newborns
In a normal hip joint, the top (head) of the thighbone (femur) fits snugly into the hip socket. In a child with DDH, the hip socket is shallow. As a result, the head of the femur may slip in and out.
An infant of a mother with diabetes is a baby who is born to a mother with diabetes. Because the mother has diabetes, the baby is at risk for problems.
Detailed information on the most common digestive disorders in high-risk newborns
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that includes certain birth defects, learning problems, and facial features.
A diaphragmatic hernia is a birth defect. It happens in a baby during pregnancy. In this condition, there’s an opening in your baby’s diaphragm. This is the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.
NICUs are equipped with complex machines and devices to monitor nearly every system of a baby's body - temperature, heart rate, breathing, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and blood pressure.
You will have to remove milk from your breasts on a regular basis if you are to provide enough of your milk for your high-risk baby.
Most mothers find they get more milk in less time when using a hospital-grade, electric breast pump with a double collection kit when providing milk for high-risk newborns.
During pregnancy, the fetal lungs are not used for breathing - the placenta does the work of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide through the mother's circulation. With the first breaths of air the baby takes at birth, the fetal circulation changes.
Group B streptococcus (strep) is a type of bacteria. It can be found in the digestive tract, urinary tract, and genital area of adults. About 1 in 4 pregnant women carry GBS in their rectum or vagina. During pregnancy, the mother can pass the infection to the baby. The fetus can get GBS during pregnancy. Newborns can get it from the mother's genital tract during delivery.
Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a digestive disorder. Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Reflux means to flow back or return.
Detailed information on heart disorders in high-risk newborns
A baby with hydrocephalus has extra fluid around the brain. This fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Too much CSF can increase the pressure in your baby’s head. This causes the bones in your baby’s skull to expand and separate. The baby's head may look larger than normal.
Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN) is a blood problem in newborns. It occurs when your baby's red blood cells break down at a fast rate. It’s also called erythroblastosis fetalis.
A mother with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding.
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) is a common problem in premature babies. It causes babies to need extra oxygen and help with breathing.
Vitamin K deficiency bleeding is a problem that occurs in some newborns. It happens during the first few days of life. This condition used to be called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn.
Hypospadias is a problem where the opening of the urethra is not at the tip of the penis. With hypospadias, the end of the tube is lower down on the underside of the penis. Or it may be in the scrotum.
Hydrops fetalis is severe swelling (edema) in an unborn baby or a newborn baby. It is a life-threatening problem.
Hyperbilirubinemia happens when there is too much bilirubin in your baby’s blood. Bilirubin is made by the breakdown of red blood cells. It’s hard for babies to get rid of bilirubin. It can build up in their blood, tissues, and fluids.
Hypocalcemia is when a person doesn't have enough calcium in the blood. In babies, it’s called neonatal hypocalcemia. Your baby can get it at different times and from different causes.
Because most babies in the NICU are too small or sick to take milk feedings, medicines and fluids are often given through their veins or arteries.
Detailed information on high-risk newborns
Newborns are particularly susceptible to infections. One of the best ways to keep your baby infection-free is to wash your hands before and after handling him or her. Other preventive measures may also be necessary.
Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) is bleeding inside or around the ventricles in the brain. The ventricles are the spaces in the brain that contain the cerebral spinal fluid.
Low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces (2,500 grams). An average newborn usually weighs about 8 pounds. A low-birth-weight baby may be healthy even though he or she is small. But a low-birth-weight baby can also have many serious health problems.
Large for gestational age is used to describe newborn babies who weigh more than the usual amount for the number of weeks of pregnancy. Babies are called large for gestational age if they weigh more than 9 in 10 babies of the same gestational age.
Meconium aspiration happens when a newborn breathes in a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the liquid that surrounds the baby in the womb. Meconium is the baby's first stool, or poop, which is sticky, thick, and dark green. It is typically passed in the womb during early pregnancy and again in the first few days after birth.
"Fresh breastmilk" contains the most active anti-infective properties. Refrigerated breastmilk has fewer anti-infective properties than fresh milk and frozen breastmilk has the least.
Learning to breastfeed effectively is a process that may take days or weeks for premature and many other high-risk babies. But you and your baby can become a breastfeeding team if you are patient and persistent.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome is what happens when babies are exposed to drugs in the womb before birth. Babies can then go through drug withdrawal after birth.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious illness in newborns. It happens when tissue in the large intestine (colon) gets inflamed. This inflammation damages and sometimes kills the tissue in your baby’s colon.
NICUs provide specialized care for the tiniest patients. NICUs may also have intermediate or continuing care areas for babies who are not as sick but do need specialized nursing care.
A delay in the time when milk "comes in" sometimes occurs after the birth of a high-risk baby. Also, it is not unusual to experience a drop in the amount being pumped after several weeks.
When your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), your main concern is getting her healthy and home. That means feeding your baby and having her gain weight. But feeding babies in the NICU is quite different from feeding healthy babies. Here's what you need to know.
Detailed information on physical abnormalities of high-risk newborns
A pneumothorax is an air leak in the lungs. It's when air from the lungs leaks into the chest area.
Polycythemia vera is a serious, but very rare blood disorder in children. With polycythemia vera, the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. The extra cells make the blood too thick. This may lead to blood clots. The clots can decrease the blood supply to organs, tissues, and cells.
The normal length of pregnancy is 37 to 41 weeks. Postmaturity is a word used to describe babies born after 42 weeks. Very few babies are born at 42 weeks or later. Other terms often used to describe these late births include post-term, postmaturity, prolonged pregnancy, and post-dates pregnancy.
Persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) happens in newborn babies. It occurs when a newborn’s circulation changes back to the circulation of a fetus. When this happens, too much blood flow bypasses the baby’s lungs. This is sometimes called persistent fetal circulation.
A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature or born too early. The number of premature births in the U.S. is rising. Twins and other multiples are more likely to be premature than single birth babies.
In most cases, you can be with your baby in the NICU at any time. The staff of the NICU will give you instructions on special hand-washing techniques before entering the area.
Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a softening of white brain tissue near the ventricles. The ventricles are fluid-filled chambers in the brain.
Pyloric stenosis is a problem that causes forceful vomiting. It affects babies from birth to 6 months of age. It can lead to dehydration. This condition is the second most common reason why newborns have surgery.
Your baby is finally ready to come home. Turn your nervous energy into positive action. Make a checklist for what you and she needs before leaving the hospital so that you can create a safe home environment. Here's a list of items to get you started.
Detailed information on respiratory disorders in high-risk newborns
Retinopathy of prematurity is an eye problem that happens to premature babies. The retina lines the back of the eye. It receives light as it comes through the pupil. From there, the optic nerve sends signals to the brain. Retinopathy of prematurity is a problem of the blood vessels of the retina.
A look at the respiratory system, and lung development in babies.
RSV is a viral illness that causes symptoms such as trouble breathing. It’s the most common cause of inflammation of the small airways in the lungs (bronchiolitis) and pneumonia in babies.
Newborn sepsis is a severe infection in an infant younger than 28 days old. The infection is in your baby’s blood. But it may affect any body system or the whole body.
Small for gestational age is a term used to describe babies that are smaller than usual for the number of weeks of pregnancy. These babies have birth weight below the 10th percentile. This means they are smaller than many other babies of the same gestational age.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old. SIDS is sometimes called crib death because the death may happen when a baby is sleeping in a crib. It’s one of the leading causes of death in babies from ages 1 month to 1 year. It happens most often between 2 and 4 months old.
Detailed information on high-risk newborns
Premature babies especially need a supportive environment to help them continue to mature and develop as they would in their mother's womb.
Spina bifida is a birth defect that causes problems with the spine, spinal cord, and the surrounding nerves.
Detailed information on substance exposure of newborns
Babies in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) undergo regular testing so they get the important care they need. Here are several common lab tests. Ask your baby's healthcare provider about them.
Thrombocytopenia [thrombo-boh-sy-toh-PEE-nee-uh] means that a newborn baby has too few platelets in his or her blood. Platelets are blood cells that help the blood clot. They are made in the bone marrow.
Trisomy 13 and trisomy 18 are genetic disorders. They include a combination of birth defects. This includes severe learning problems and health problems that affect nearly every organ in the body.
Transient tachypnea of the newborn is a mild breathing problem. It affects babies during the first hours of life. Transient means it is short-lived. Tachypnea means fast breathing rate. The problem usually goes away without treatment in about 3 days.
A detailed look at Turner syndrome, a genetic disorder that occurs in girls.
Detailed information on vision and hearing in newborns
Very low birth weight is a term used to describe babies who are born weighing less than 3 pounds, 4 ounces. It is very rare that babies are born this tiny. Only about 1 in 100 babies born in the U.S. are very low birth weight.
Premature and low birthweight babies may be too immature to regulate their own temperature, even in a warm environment. Even full-term and healthy newborns may not be able to maintain their body temperature if the environment is too cold.
Breastfeeding your premature infant is not only possible, it's the best thing for your baby.
An omphalocele is a birth defect. It happens when your baby is forming during pregnancy. In this condition, some of your baby’s abdominal organs poke out (protrude) through an opening in the abdominal muscles. This area is in the umbilical cord. A clear (translucent) membrane covers the organs.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect found in the days or weeks after birth. Read on to learn about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Chronic lung disease is the general term for long-term breathing problems in premature babies. It’s also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Here's what you need ot know about this condition.
A baby born to a mother who drinks alcohol during pregnancy can have many problems. This is called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).
Hypoglycemia is when the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too low. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the brain and the body. In a newborn baby, low blood sugar can happen for many reasons. It can cause problems such as shakiness, blue tint to the skin, and breathing and feeding problems.
Human blood consists of about 22% solids and 78% water. The components of blood are plasma, fat globules, chemicals, and gases.
Birth defects may be caused by inherited (genetic) problems or by environmental things such as exposure to certain toxic substances during pregnancy. Some birth defects can be linked to a direct cause. Other reasons are not as clear.
A hernia is when a part of the intestine pushes through a weak spot in the belly (abdominal) muscles. The hernia creates a soft lump or bulge under the skin.