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Pediatric Neonatology

Neuro-Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Neuro-NICU)

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s Neuro-Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Neuro-NICU), which is housed within the existing world-class Level IV NICU, is the first unit of its kind in Northeast Ohio to provide specialized neurological care for newborns.

This unique unit provides expertise and collaboration from physicians in UH Rainbow’s neonatology, pediatric neuroradiology and neurology divisions, as well as specialized nursing care and physical and occupational therapy. The neuro-NICU team provides urgent consultations, follows patients during their hospitalization, and assists with discharge coordination.

Advanced, Family-Focused Care

At the neuro-NICU, newborns at risk for future developmental problems are cared for by a specially trained team of experts using advanced techniques and treatments. The goal is to improve communication between specialists and with families and to optimize neurologic and developmental outcomes. Our family-centered care model ensures that parents are involved in the decision-making process to whatever extent they wish, every step of the way.

Our Team

The multidisciplinary neuro-NICU team meets weekly to discuss each case and to coordinate treatment, then meets together with the patient’s family to discuss diagnosis and treatment plan. This high level of coordination among all of the providers helps improve the quality of care that our patients receive.

Our team of experts include:

  • Neonatologists
  • Pediatric neurologists
  • Pediatric neuro-radiologist
  • Maternal fetal medicine and OB/GYN experts
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners with special interests in neurological disorders
  • Pediatric nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Nurse coordinator

Our team also consults and coordinates with other experts as needed, including:

  • Pediatric neurosurgeons
  • Pediatric developmental behavioral specialists
  • Pediatric geneticists

Conditions We Treat

Newborns admitted to the neuro-NICU will include infants with the following conditions:

  • Central nervous system (CNS) infections
  • CNS anomalies
  • Conditions requiring ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation)
  • Cyanotic congenital heart disease
  • Extreme prematurity (28 weeks or earlier)
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Intraventricular hemorrhage (Grade III/IV)
  • In utero stroke
  • Metabolic disease
  • Neural tube defects
  • Seizures and epilepsy

Research Informs Patient Care

Our neonatologists, pediatric neurologists and other clinicians are actively engaged in research that is helping to better understand brain function in newborns. These findings can then be translated into better care protocols for infants in the neuro-NICU. Research that our team participates in include:

  • Studying ways to help combat the effect of neurotoxins – such as bilirubin – on newborn development. This includes research on supplementing choline – a nutrient that is essential to infant brain development.
  • Using magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) to study children with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – which can occur in babies who were exposed to opioids in the womb. UH Rainbow is the only site in the country currently using this technology. The goal is to improve outcomes for babies with NAS and decrease the length of their stay in the NICU.

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