What is Neonatology?
Neonatology is the branch of Paediatrics that deals with the medical care of newborn infants. Neonatal care involves preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions that affect premature babies. The most common complications include Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Infection, Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Jaundice, Hypoglycemia and Hyperbilirubinemia.
Neonatal care providers diagnose, treat, and manage infants from birth to 28 days old. They work with various healthcare professionals to ensure that each infant receives the best care.
Neonatologists may also be called Paediatricians or Pediatric Specialists, depending on their practice area.
What is NICU?
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Manipal Hospitals, Ghaziabad, provides specialised medical care for newborns born prematurely or with low birth weight, congenital disabilities, or other severe medical conditions requiring advanced medical technology with skilled medical care.
A neonatal care unit is sometimes called a Special Care Nursery.
NICU provides Nutrition and Hydration management, Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Services, Blood Tests, and Cardiac Monitoring. It also offers Physical Therapy, Neurologic Services, and Respiratory Support may include Mechanical Ventilation.
Infants with Respiratory Distress experience difficulty breathing. This condition has many causes, from Asthma to Infections, and can be particularly dangerous in infants as their lungs are not yet fully developed.
The well-equipped NICU at Manipal Hospitals, Ghaziabad, offers around-the-clock care for infants with respiratory conditions, including breathing support.
Sepsis is life-threatening when the body's response to an infection injures its tissues and organs. It can affect people of any age, with infants at a higher risk.
The most common cause of Sepsis in newborns is Blood Infection at birth. The other causes include Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), Pneumonia, Meningitis, or other infections around birth.
Anaemia in infants is a condition in which the number of Red Blood Cells in the body is less than expected. It is a condition that occurs due to low Haemoglobin levels in infants during the first year of their life, which can happen for several reasons. Some of these include Iron Deficiency and Blood Loss.
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin caused by liver damage.
Physiologic Jaundice occurs in newborns and typically clears up within the first few days after birth.
Pathologic Jaundice, however, is a sign of an underlying disease such as Hepatitis or Biliary Atresia.
The team at NICU determines whether or not they have Pathologic Jaundice, as this could indicate an underlying disease.
Apnea is a common problem in infants, especially those with low birth weights or who have been born prematurely. It is the absence of breathing during sleep, which can be dangerous because it can lead to Cyanosis (blueness), Hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and Bradycardia (slowing of the heart rate).
Common causes of Apnea include Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Upper Airway Obstruction, which need urgent attention at NICU.
- Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia is a respiratory condition that can occur in premature babies, characterised by inflammation of the lung tissue and an increase in mucus production, which leads to difficulty breathing.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia is expected during the first few weeks of life when the lungs are still developing. In some cases, symptoms may not be present until later on in infancy or childhood.
Bradycardia, a heart rate of fewer than 60 beats per minute, is a slow heart rate.
In infants, Bradycardia can result from Hypothermia (low body temperature), Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). Genetic disorders like long QT Syndrome and Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia can also cause it.
Admission into the NICU is a must for infants with Bradycardia.
Hydrocephalus is when the brain and spinal cord become filled with fluid. The condition is common in premature babies, the symptom of Hydrocephalus is an enlarged head, but other symptoms include Vomiting, Lethargy, and Seizures. A CT scan or MRI scan diagnoses Hydrocephalus.
A baby diagnosed with Hydrocephalus needs NICU admission for treatment.
- Intraventricular Haemorrhage
Intraventricular Haemorrhage (IVH) is when blood accumulates within the brain's Ventricles. Intraventricular Haemorrhage can result from a birth injury, Trauma during delivery, or Asphyxia (oxygen deprivation) at birth.
NICU admission is a must for managing Intraventricular Haemorrhage.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) is where there is an opening between the Pulmonary Artery and Aorta, allowing blood flow from the Pulmonary Artery to the Aorta.
NICU admission complications include Respiratory Distress, poor weight gain and failure to thrive.
- Necrotizing Enterocolitis
Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe, sometimes life-threatening condition that affects infants. It can develop rapidly in the first few days of life before babies are even born. NEC causes inflammation and damage to the inner layers of the intestine, leading to abdominal pain and severe complications if not treated quickly. The symptoms of this condition include Abdominal Pain, Diarrhoea, Lack of Appetite and Fever.
- Periventricular Leukomalacia
Periventricular Leukomalacia is a brain injury that happens when blood and oxygen do not reach the periventricular area of the brain. It is a common type of brain injury in infants and can occur before or after birth.
The damage results in scarring and the death of Neurons (nerve cells), and its symptoms include Seizures, Paralysis, Blindness, and developmental delays.
- Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
Transient Tachypnea is a respiratory condition that causes rapid infant breathing. The condition results from a lack of Surfactant, preventing the lungs from collapsing. Babies born without Surfactant can develop Transient Tachypnea and other respiratory problems. Newborns with transient Tachypnea need admission to the NICU for observation and treatment.
- Retinopathy of Prematurity
Retinopathy of Prematurity causes blood vessels in the retina to grow abnormally, which can lead to blindness. It occurs when a premature infant's retina develops too quickly due to a lack of oxygen.
Premature babies need admission to NICU to receive specialised care and treatment.
Feeding concerns describe an infant's inability to consume adequate nutrition, including:
Infant failure to latch on and suckle at the breast.
Inability to coordinate sucking and swallowing effectively.
Inability to move food back up the oesophagus into the mouth after swallowing.
Poor weight gain, despite good calorie intake and frequent feedings.
Vomiting after eating
- Extreme Premature Birth
Extreme Premature Birth is the birth of a baby before 28 weeks, also called Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
Babies born this early are typically tiny, have underdeveloped Lungs and other organs and may have difficulty breathing. These babies are given special care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to help them survive and grow.
- Neonatal Blood Transfusion
Neonatal Blood Transfusion is the transfusion of blood into the Circulatory System of a newborn infant through an Intravenous Line. This procedure happens when an infant's blood count is low or when there are complications with their blood type.
The goal of the procedure is to give the infant's body time to make more Red Blood Cells, which will then build up their strength and prevent them from having severe health problems.
Neonatal Ventilation treats infants born with Respiratory Failure. The infant has difficulty breathing, and their lungs are underdeveloped, resulting in several complications, including Hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and Hypercarbia (excessive carbon dioxide).
Neonatal Ventilation happens by placing the infant on a ventilator that delivers oxygen directly into the lungs. The Ventilator also provides additional pressure to help keep the lungs open. The process is typically done for several hours or days until the baby's lungs have developed enough to breathe independently.