Thursday, August 9, 2007

Big Near-Term and Sick Newborns are the Majority of the NICU Admissions

Even though people associate the (NICU) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with premature babies, near-term babies, the fact is that those babies who are closer to term (40 weeks) are often the ones most frequently admitted.

We get this all the time when I mention my daughter was in the NICU. "Oh, she was a preemie?" "No. She was a Sick Newborn."

Near-term infant - a newborn closer to term (40 weeks), often between 34 and 36 weeks or born roughly four or five weeks before his or her estimated due date.

Late preterm infant - Near-term infant

Premature baby - a newborn born before 34 weeks

Sick Newborn - Newborns that are near term or term infants who require Intensive Care intervention for a variety of problems or diseases.
Some near-term or sick newborns experience complications from oxygen deprivation during delivery or wet lungs after a Cesarean section.

Big NICU Babies

According to an article on near-term babies, Dr. Kenneth Herrman, neonatologist and medical director of newborn services at Deaconess Women's Hospital at Riley Hospital for Children in Evansville, IL:
The big babies, closer to term, are the majority, and they stay for the shortest amount of time.

If you would walk through the nursery on any particular day, you would have the impression the NICU is filled with premature babies because they stay a disproportionately longer amount of time.
Our daughter was not a preemie, she was a sick newborn diagnosed with PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn. She required supportive ventilation on a respirator because of high pressure in the lungs and ended up in the NICU.

Combing the Internet for Resources on Sick Newborns
It took me several days after our daughter was hospitalize in the NICU to find online resources for parents of sick newborns since most of the online resources, organizations and online groups are for parents of preemies. This was extremely frustrating for someone used to finding information quickly online.

Thankfully I stumble upon the helpful resources about Sick Newborns written by neonatologist, Dr. Jane E. Brazy and her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin. Over the years, these resources for Sick Newborns are ones that I continue to refer to for my NICU articles. The excellent resources are now being hosted by Meriter Health Services.

Keeling L. Near-term babies at the NICU suffer from deceptive weakness. June 11, 2007. Evansville Courier & Press.
Rubin R. 'Near-term' unease grows. USA Today. October 9, 2005.
Brazy JE. et. al. Sick Newborn Health. Meriter Health Services.

Matt & Janet Dustin. All her machines at the NICU. Creative Commons License.

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