Highly educated and experienced in the field of neonatology (the branch
of medicine that deals with the care of newborn infants and the
treatment of their diseases), the physicians and nurses of the Neonatal
Intensive Care Program at Bryn Mawr Hospital provide personalized care
to premature babies and other seriously ill newborns. The units are also
staffed by respiratory therapists, social workers and pharmacists whose
primary responsibilities are to provide care and services to babies.
Accessibility to our Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), including
special emergency transport, offers a vital lifeline to families living
in the Philadelphia suburbs and surrounding areas.
It is important for parents to know that most problems of the premature
or full-term, high-risk newborn are temporary and correctable. What they
need is time: time for the premature newborn to develop immature body
systems, and time for the high-risk newborn to overcome severe illness.
For both, the NICU regimen is a 24-hour, day-by-day, intensive program
to help them achieve these treatment goals.
The Premature Infant
When first admitted to the NICU, many premature babies may weigh two
pounds or less. Because of minimal body fat and muscle tissue, or
illness, they may not have the power to move vigorously and will lie in
a limp position. They sleep more than full-term babies. This is not
worrisome, for they need more rest, which is essential to their growth
A full-term baby (born at 37 weeks gestation or more) already has
developed life’s basic skills while still in the womb. Usually by the
35th week of the mother’s pregnancy, a fetus is able to swallow, grasp,
move about and even cry. Premature babies have to be taught, that is,
stimulated to do many of these things once they have gained the strength
to do so.
Having come from a wet environment into dry air, the baby’s skin is dry
and sometimes flaky. It is usually reddish in color but may also be
jaundiced (have a yellow tint) due to a breakdown of red blood cells.
The High-Risk Newborn
Full-term babies admitted to the NICU generally must overcome an acute
illness. They may suffer from infections, respiratory distress or low
blood sugar. Common causes of respiratory distress are infection,
inhalation of fetal waste into the lungs before or at the time of birth,
or fluid in the lungs.
Complications from a delivery may result in an infant's needing the
NICU. As with the premature baby, the high-risk newborn may experience
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.