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NICU & Preemie Glossary/Dictionary

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A

Adjusted Age (Corrected Age)

Developmental | Diagnostic

A method for evaluating a preemie's development as compared to a full term baby. Since a child born prior to 40 weeks must finish normal pre-birth development outside the womb it is more accurate to adjust the preemie's age to what it would have been if born full term.

The adjusted age is calculated by subtracting the number of weeks early (40 weeks minus actual week born) from the chronological age. For example, a baby born at 24 weeks is 16 weeks early (40 minus 24) or roughly 4 months. When this baby is chronologically 6 months old, his or her adjusted age would be 2 months old. On the baby's 1st birthday, the adjusted age would be 8 months.

Synonyms: corrected age

Aerosol Therapy (Nebulizer Treatment)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

The use of a device that converts liquid medicines into a mist for easy delivery into the bronchial tubes and lungs as your baby inhales. Treatment is administered through a hood placed over your baby's head or through a mask fitted over the nose and mouth. The procedure usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Most often these therapies are used to:

  • reduce inflammation in the airway
  • facilitate the breakup of mucus
  • treat spasms in the bronchia (asthma)
  • improve blood flow in the lungs and bronchia
  • prevent or treat pneumonia

Age & Weight Preemie Designations

Developmental

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Anemia

Diagnostic | Medical

ah·NEE·me·ah  

A deficiency in red blood cells (RBCs). In preemies, this is often the result of a lack of a hormone (erythropoietin) that is developed in the third trimester. Since RBCs carry oxygen to the body, a lack of these important cells can cause rapid breathing and heart rate in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Anemia often goes away as the baby ages without any intervention, but your NICU medical staff may elect to give your baby a blood transfusion in order to boost red blood cell counts.

ANSD (Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A hearing problem that sometimes occurs in premature babies. Although sounds reach the inner ear normally, the nerve signals are disrupted as they travel to the brain. A person with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder hears the sounds but they are distorted. Children with ANSD have difficulty understanding speech and distinguishing one sound from another.

Apgar Score

Diagnostic | Medical

AP·gar  skor  

An evaluation that rates five different health markers for your baby. This is usually done immediately after birth and then again about 5 minutes later. These markers are known by the acronym A·P·G·A·R. Each marker is evaluated on a scale between 0 and 2. A total score of 7 or more is considered healthy, scores lower than 7 indicate that the baby may be at risk.

APGAR is calculated by adding points earned in each column
AAppearance (skin color)PPulse (heart rate)GGrimace (reflex irritability)AActivity (muscle tone)RRespiration (breathing rate and effort)
2 points if normal color all over 2 points if normal (100+ beats per minute) 2 points if pulls away, sneezes, coughs, or cries with stimulation 2 points if active spontaneous movement 2 points if normal rate and effort, good cry
1 point if normal color except for bluish hands and feet 1 point if below 100 beats per minute 1 point if facial movement only with stinulation 1 point if arms and legs flexed with little movement 1 point if slow or irregular breathing, weak cry
0 points if bluish-gray or pale all over 0 points if no pulse) 0 points if no response to stimulation 0 points if no movement, "floppy" tone 0 points if not breathing

Apnea (of Prematurity)

Diagnostic | Medical

AP·nee·ah  

An intermittent pause in breathing that lasts longer than 20 seconds at a time. This is a frequent and serious condition with premature babies. At this stage of life, the apnea is often due to a developmental problem in the brain. At present, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is working to develop a consensus regarding the definition, diagnosis and standardized treatment for apnea of prematurity.

Apnea Monitor

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

AP·nee·ah  MAHN·i·ter  

A machine that detects your baby's breathing (chest movement) and heart rate. If your baby's heart rate slows down (bradycardia) or the chest stops moving (apnea), an alarm will sound to alert the NICU staff.

Aspiration

Medical

AS·per·ā·shun  

The accidental inhalation of a substance other than air, such as meconium, food, or medicine, into the lungs.

Attending Physician

Medical | Professional

An M.D. or D.O selected by you or assigned to your baby by the hospital who has final medical and legal responsibility for all aspects of your baby's care — even though other doctors, physician assistants, and/or nurse practitioners may be diagnosing and making treatment decisions.

Synonyms: attending, rendering doc, staff physician

Audiologist

Medical | Professional

AH·dee·ah·lah·jist  

A professional who diagnoses, treats, and/or manages hearing or balance problems. Audiologists are required to have a Doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) or a Master's degree in audiology from an accredited university graduate program.

Auditory Brainstem Response Test (ABR Test)

Diagnostic | Medical

A safe and painless test that is administered if your baby fails a hearing screening test in the hospital shortly after birth. Electrode stickers that are connected to a computer are placed on your baby's head and in front of his or her ears. Then, as different sounds at varying intensities are introduced, the response of your baby's hearing nerve is recorded. At the end of the test, an audiologist or hearing specialist will evaluate a computer printout to determine if your baby has any hearing problems.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD)

Diagnostic | Medical

A hearing problem that sometimes occurs in premature babies. Although sounds reach the inner ear normally, the nerve signals are disrupted as they travel to the brain. A person with Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder hears the sounds but they are distorted. Children with ANSD have difficulty understanding speech and distinguishing one sound from another.

B

Bagging (Bag-Valve-Mask Ventilation)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

The use of a respirator bag to manually squeeze air into your baby's lungs through a mask or an endotracheal tube.

ERROR

The mask of the manual respirator is placed over baby's nose and mouth. The "bag" of the device is squeezed every 20 to 30 seconds to deliver air into baby's lungs.

Betamethasone

Developmental | Medical | Procedural

BEH·dah·METH·ah·sone  

A synthetic steroid (corticosteroid), that is often given to women prior a premature delivery to help prevent the brain bleeds and respiratory problems associated with prematurity. Babies born prior to 37 weeks do not yet produce the surfactant that lubricates his or her lung sacs so they can slide against each other without sticking.

Synonyms: antenatal betamethasone

BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)

Equipment | Medical

A device that helps babies with sleep apnea breathe normally and efficiently. Unlike a CPAP that provides a constant pressure in the airway, BiPAP creates and cycles between two different air pressure levels in the baby's airway — a higher pressure to help inhalation and a lower pressure to allow exhalation.

Bililights

Equipment | Medical

BILL·ēēlites  

Blue lights that are placed over your baby's incubator to treat newborn jaundice. Newborn jaundice is a condition caused by an under-developed or dysfunctioning liver.

One of the visible symptoms of jaundice is a yellow appearance in the skin and eyes that results from too much bilirubin in the blood. This type of phototherapy is able to break down bilirubin which is then excreted in the urine.

Bilirubin

Diagnostic | Medical

BIH·lee·rū·bin  

The yellow-orange substance that is produced as the body replaced old blood cells. It is processed in the liver and excreted in the stool. An excess level of bilirubin is common in preemies and is responsible for newborn jaundice. Usually, this jaundice is harmless and simply results as the baby's liver begins to take over the processing function from the placenta after birth. Excesses can also indicate such things as a mother/baby blood type mismatch, infection, a deficiency of certain important enzymes, or cycle cell anemia.

BiPAP (BiLevel Positive Airway Pressure)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A device that helps babies with sleep apnea breathe normally and efficiently. Unlike a CPAP that provides a constant pressure in the airway, BiPAP creates and cycles between two different air pressure levels in the baby's airway — a higher pressure to help inhalation and a lower pressure to allow exhalation.

Blood Pressure Monitor

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

The machine that tracks the force of the blood pushing against your baby's arterial walls. A tiny cuff that is wrapped around your baby's arm or leg will periodically inflate, measure his or her blood pressure, and display the results on the monitor's screen.

BPD (Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A lung disease that can affect premature infants who are kept on a ventilator (respirator) and/or oxygen for a prolonged amount of time. Although most babies outgrow this condition, some experience longterm breathing difficulties.

Bradycardia

Diagnostic | Medical

bra·də·kär′·dē·ä  

A slower than normal heart rhythm. Anything less than 100 beats per minutes in a premature baby qualifies as bradycardia. This condition is most often associated and even initiated by apnea, feeding, and reflux. Initially, physical stimulation such as a gentle stroking or tickling of the baby's feet is used to speed up the heart rate, but continuing episodes may be treated with medications such as caffeine. In addition, treating the baby's apnea with ventilation and/or with CPAP will often improve or even eliminate this condition. A primary danger with bradycardia/apnea is lowered oxygen levels (desaturation).

Brain Bleed (Intraventricular Hemorrhage)

Diagnostic | Medical

A bleeding into the fluid-filled areas (ventricles) of the brain from the rupture of fragile, under-developed blood vessels. The condition occurs most often in babies who are born prematurely. The highest risk is for babies born prior to the 30th week of pregnancy (gestation) because it is during these last 10 weeks that the blood vessels in the brain mature. Usually, an IVH happens in the first few days after birth but then the risk diminishes as the baby ages. The condition is rare after the first month.

The severity of the IVH is described by a four-level grading system. Grades 1 and 2 are the most common and least critical. These usually take care of themselves without further complications. Grades 3 and 4 more the most serious and may cause long-term brain injury.

Breast Pump

Equipment | Medical

A machine that collects breast milk from a lactating mother. These devices can be purchased from a variety of manufactures for home use, but those available in the hospital are the most powerful and efficient. Hospital grade breast pumps can often be rented for home use.

Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)

Diagnostic | Medical

BRON·kō·pull·man·neh·ree  DIS·play·zhah  

A lung disease that can affect premature infants who are kept on a ventilator (respirator) and/or oxygen for a prolonged amount of time. Although most babies outgrow this condition, some experience longterm breathing difficulties.

C

Cannula

Equipment | Medical

KAN·yah·lah  

A thin, hollow tube that can be inserted into a body cavity or duct for the delivery or removal of fluids or gasses. Although the terms cannula and catheter are often used interchangeably they are different.

Generally, a cannula is considerably shorter than a catheter. When referring to intravenous applications, the difference between an IV cannula and an IV catheter is that the cannula is inserted with a trocar that is removed after the cannula is in place, whereas the IV catheter is inserted with a needle.

Examples of Cannulas
Nasal Cannula
© Neotech Products
Intravenousl Cannula
© Valentyna Lomova
Nasal CannulaIntravenous Cannula

Synonyms: catheter (loosely)

Cardiopulmonary Monitor

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

KAR·deh·oh·pull·mah·neh·ree  MAH·neh·der  

The machine that records your baby's heart and breathing rates. Several leads are connected to your baby's chest, legs, and/or arms by means of painless sticky pads. The monitor is programmed to alert NICU caregivers if your baby's heart rate or breathing rate becomes too fast or slow.

Catheter

Equipment | Medical

KATH·e·der  

A hollow thin tube that can be inserted into a body cavity or duct for the delivery or removal of fluids. Although the terms catheter and cannula are often used interchangeably when referring to intravenous applications, they are different.

Generally, catheters are longer, often considerably longer, than cannulas. The difference between an IV catheter and an IV cannula is that the catheter is inserted with a needle which remains in place whereas the IV cannula is inserted with a trocar which is removed after the cannula is in place.

Synonyms: cannula (loosely)

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A blood test that measures the number of certain components and features in a sample of blood. A CBC can include several different components of whole blood dependent upon instructions from the healthcare provider but at a minimum, it usually includes the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit

Synonyms: full blood count (FBC), full blood exam (FBE)

CC (Cubic Centimeter)

Medical | Chat & Forum

A metric measurement of volume equal to 1/1,000 of a liter. There are approximately 30 cubic centimeters in a fluid ounce.

Synonyms: millileter

CDL (Chronic Lung Disease)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A lung disease that can affect premature infants who are kept on a ventilator (respirator) and/or oxygen for a prolonged amount of time. Although most babies outgrow this condition, some experience longterm breathing difficulties.

Central Venous Line (CVL)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

A thin, hollow tube (a catheter) that is inserted into a large blood vessel and fed into the heart as a means to deliver fluids, medicines, and nutrients as well as a way to obtain periodic blood samples. There are more than 20 vein sites that may be used to insert the CVL in an infant.

Synonyms: central venous catheter

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Diagnostic | Medical

SEH·reh·brul  PAHL·zee  

A disorder that is caused by damage to the brain while it is still developing — most often prior to birth or shortly after a premature birth. CP affects muscle tone, muscle movement, reflexes, and brain function. Expression of CP and the degree of impairment varies greatly. Symptoms may manifest as one or a combination of the following:

  • Involuntary or impaired movement of arms, legs, or trunk
  • Floppiness of the trunk and/or limbs
  • Rigidity of the trunk and/or limbs
  • Abnormal posture
  • Imbalance
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Problems swallowing
  • Impaired intellectual development

Chronic Lung Disease (Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia)

Diagnostic | Medical

A lung disease that can affect premature infants who are kept on a ventilator (respirator) and/or oxygen for a prolonged amount of time. Although most babies outgrow this condition, some experience longterm breathing difficulties.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Diagnostic | Medical

A blood test that measures the number of certain components and features in a sample of blood. A CBC can include several different components of whole blood dependent upon instructions from the healthcare provider but at a minimum, it usually includes the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit

Synonyms: full blood count (FBC), full blood exam (FBE)

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Equipment | Medical

A ventilator (respirator) that provides a continuous, gentle air pressure through the nose and/or mouth to keep the tiny air passages in the baby's lungs open. The pressure is delivered through a set of prongs (nasal cannula) or a mask that fits over baby's nose. CPAP is especially useful for maintaining normal respiration and oxygen saturation in babies who have abnormally long periods between breaths (apnea).

ERROR

Preemie with CPAP

Cooling Blanket

Equipment | Medical

A wrap or blanket designed to lower a baby's temperature to 92.3°F. Although this seems counter-intuitive, this process of cooling the baby has been shown to reduce the risk of seizures and brain injury due to a lack of oxygen to the brain.

A baby at risk may receive the blanket shortly after birth and it may be used for up to 72 hours. After that, the temperature in the incubator is slowly increased to bring the baby's temperature to a normal 98.6°F.

Corrected Age (Adjusted Age)

Developmental

A method for evaluating a preemie's development as compared to a full term baby. Since a child born prior to 40 weeks must finish normal pre-birth development outside the womb it is more accurate to adjust the preemie's age to what it would have been if born full term.

The adjusted age is calculated by subtracting the number of weeks early (40 weeks minus actual week born) from the chronological age. For example, a baby born at 24 weeks is 16 weeks early (40 minus 24) or roughly 4 months. When this baby is chronologically 6 months old, his or her adjusted age would be 2 months old. On the baby's 1st birthday, the adjusted age would be 8 months.

Synonyms: corrected age

CP (Cerebral Palsy)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A disorder that is caused by damage to the brain while it is still developing — most often prior to birth or shortly after a premature birth. CP affects muscle tone, muscle movement, reflexes, and brain function. Expression of CP and the degree of impairment varies greatly. Symptoms may manifest as one or a combination of the following:

  • Involuntary or impaired movement of arms, legs, or trunk
  • Floppiness of the trunk and/or limbs
  • Rigidity of the trunk and/or limbs
  • Abnormal posture
  • Imbalance
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Problems swallowing
  • Impaired intellectual development

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

SEE·pap  

A ventilator (respirator) that provides a continuous, gentle air pressure through the nose and/or mouth to keep the tiny air passages in the baby's lungs open. The pressure is delivered through a set of prongs (nasal cannula) or a mask that fits over baby's nose. CPAP is especially useful for maintaining normal respiration and oxygen saturation in babies who have abnormally long periods between breaths (apnea).

ERROR

Preemie with CPAP

Cubic Centimeter (CC)

Medical

A metric measurement of volume equal to 1/1,000 of a liter. There are approximately 30 cubic centimeters in a fluid ounce.

Synonyms: millileter

Culture

Diagnostic | Medical

A method of detecting and/or identifying a microbial infection by placing a sample of a suspected infected material – such as a bodily discharge, blood, saliva, or mucus – in a culture medium under controlled conditions that will allow organisms to multiply.

The sample is monitored for a period of time. If a microbial colony begins to grow it is analyzed under a microscope and can be subjected to other tests to determine the identity of the cultured organisms.

CVL (Central Venous Line)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A thin, hollow tube (a catheter) that is inserted into a large blood vessel and fed into the heart as a means to deliver fluids, medicines, and nutrients as well as a way to obtain periodic blood samples. There are more than 20 vein sites that may be used to insert the CVL in an infant.

Synonyms: central venous catheter

D

dd

Chat & Forum

Dear daughter

Desat (Desaturation)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

When a baby's oxygen blood level (SpO2) falls below 90%. This condition (also called desaturation) is common to infants on CPAP because it is fairly easy for the ventilator's positive pressure to be diverted into places other than into the baby's lungs. Frequently, desaturation occurs when the baby cries or when the CPAP mask becomes dislodged by the baby's movement.

Both hypoxia and hyperoxia (SpO2 over 95%) can cause serious health problems if not addressed within a short period of time. That is why a small device called a pulse oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot to monitor (SpO2. When oxygen levels fall outside the set target range an alarm sounds to alert your baby's NICU nurse.

Synonyms: desaturation, desat

Desaturation (Hypoxia)

Diagnostic | Medical

When a baby's oxygen blood level (SpO2) falls below 90%. This condition (also called desaturation) is common to infants on CPAP because it is fairly easy for the ventilator's positive pressure to be diverted into places other than into the baby's lungs. Frequently, desaturation occurs when the baby cries or when the CPAP mask becomes dislodged by the baby's movement.

Both hypoxia and hyperoxia (SpO2 over 95%) can cause serious health problems if not addressed within a short period of time. That is why a small device called a pulse oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot to monitor (SpO2. When oxygen levels fall outside the set target range an alarm sounds to alert your baby's NICU nurse.

Synonyms: desaturation, desat

Developmental Care

Developmental | Procedural

An individualized baby-centered plan of action to guide NICU staff and family in the minimization of the stress and the maximization normal development for the premature baby. This plan can include many things such as:

  • Limiting noise
  • Dimming lights
  • Swaddling
  • Kangaroo care
  • Non-nutritive sucking
  • Gentle massage
  • Developmental positioning
  • Use of positioning aids
  • Schedules to maximize rest time
  • Lactation support

Synonyms: family-centered care

Developmental Delays

Developmental | Diagnostic

The failure of a baby to reach motor, language, activity, and social/emotional milestones at the age the majority of infants do. When evaluating the development of preemies it is important to use the adjusted age.

Examples of some preemie milestones include movements of the head, hands, and legs; making certain noises; visual focus; and awareness of others.

Developmental Pediatrician

Developmental | Diagnostic | Professional

A medical doctor who is board-certified in pediatrics and has additional training in developmental pediatrics. These doctors specialize in assessing the level of development of premature infants and in evaluating and treating children with developmental delays.

dh

Chat & Forum

Dear husband

Doppler Ultrasound

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

Equipment/procedure used primarily in the NICU to measure the changing blood flow in the baby's body and particularly in brain, kidneys, and the brain. This diagnostic tool helps to evaluate certain brain activities and intracranial pressure. A handheld Doppler can be used to determine the baby's heart rate.

Synonyms: ultrasound, doppler

E

Early Intervention Program (EI)

Developmental | Diagnostic

Free services to help prepare children up to 3 years of age to be ready for school. The program is limited to children who have or may develop a special need that would limit their development. Qualification for EI is not based on ability to pay, but rather on the assessment of the child's developmental needs.

Although these programs are funded and regulated through the state's Board of Education the actual providers of service are usually private. Parents are allowed to choose a provider that best suits their child's need.

Synonyms: Early Childhood Intervention

Echocardiogram

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

EH·koh·kar·dee·oh·gram  

A non-invasive procedure that uses ultrasound to detect and diagnose structural and functional abnormalities in the baby's heart. The procedure takes between 30 minutes to one hour and provides a computerized picture of the heart as it is working. Although the procedure is painless, your baby may feel a little discomfort as the technician moves the wand over baby's bare chest.

Synonyms: echo

ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A machine that allows baby's lungs to mature or recover from injury or disease by functioning as lungs outside the body. The blood is diverted through the ECMO device so it can remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen and then returned to the baby's body.

Synonyms: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

EEG (Electroencephalogram)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A recording of your baby's spontaneous brain activity. This is accomplished by placing multiple electrodes on your baby's scalp that measure the fluctuations of electrical current between neurons in the brain. The procedure is painless and non-invasive.

EI (Early Intervention Program)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

Free services to help prepare children up to 3 years of age to be ready for school. The program is limited to children who have or may develop a special need that would limit their development. Qualification for EI is not based on ability to pay, but rather on the assessment of the child's developmental needs.

Although these programs are funded and regulated through the state's Board of Education the actual providers of service are usually private. Parents are allowed to choose a provider that best suits their child's need.

Synonyms: Early Childhood Intervention

EKG or ECG (Electrocardiogram)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A test that records respiration, heart rate, and heart rhythm. Electrical impulses from the heart and major arteries are recorded from several (up to 12) electrode patches placed on the chest, arms, and/or legs. The data can be graphed on paper or displayed on a monitor placed by your baby's isolette or incubator.

ELBW (Extremely Low Birth Weight)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Chat & Forum

A baby with a birth weight of 1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz. (800 to 999 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

ē·lek·trō·kar·dee·oh·gram  

A test that records respiration, heart rate, and heart rhythm. Electrical impulses from the heart and major arteries are recorded from several (up to 12) electrode patches placed on the chest, arms, and/or legs. The data can be graphed on paper or displayed on a monitor placed by your baby's isolette or incubator.

Electrode

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

e·lek·trōd  

A conductor that is placed on your baby's skin to collect electrical impulses from the heart (electrocardiogram) or the brain (electroencephalogram).

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

e·lek·trō·en·sef·a·loh·gram  

A recording of your baby's spontaneous brain activity. This is accomplished by placing multiple electrodes on your baby's scalp that measure the fluctuations of electrical current between neurons in the brain. The procedure is painless and non-invasive.

Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube)

Equipment | Medical

en·dō·tray·key·ul  tūb  

A small plastic tube placed into baby's windpipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth (called intubation). The other end of the tube is connected to a ventilator/respirator that helps your baby breathe by pushing air/oxygen into the lungs.

ET Tube (Endotracheal Tube)

Equipment | Medical

A small plastic tube placed into baby's windpipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth (called intubation). The other end of the tube is connected to a ventilator/respirator that helps your baby breathe by pushing air/oxygen into the lungs.

ETT (Endotracheal Tube)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A small plastic tube placed into baby's windpipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth (called intubation). The other end of the tube is connected to a ventilator/respirator that helps your baby breathe by pushing air/oxygen into the lungs.

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Equipment | Medical

ek·mō  

A machine that allows baby's lungs to mature or recover from injury or disease by functioning as lungs outside the body. The blood is diverted through the ECMO device so it can remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen and then returned to the baby's body.

Synonyms: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Extreme Prematurity

Developmental

A baby born during the 27th or 28th of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Synonyms: very, very premature

Extremely Low Birth Weight ( ELBW)

Developmental

A baby with a birth weight of 1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz. (800 to 999 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

F

Failure to Thrive

Developmental | Diagnostic

Weight gains that fall below expectation for the baby's age. This failure usually results from:

  • Insufficient calorie intake because the baby refuses to eat or is not offered enough food.
  • Insufficient calorie absorption due to allergies, inability to keep food down because of issues like gastroesophageal reflux, or medical conditions like cystic fibrosis.
  • A condition that requires more calories than is expected for normal growth.
Generally, your baby will be expected to gain at least 0.28 ounces for each pound of baby's weight per day (18 grams per kilogram per day). For example, if your baby weighs 4 pounds, the expected weight gain would be about 1.25 ounces per day. A failure to do this would be considered a failure to thrive.

Fontanelle (Fontanel)

Developmental | Medical

fawn·tahn;·EL  

A space (soft spot) between the bones of the skull that has not yet been filled with bone tissue. These soft spots are normal and necessary for the protection, growth, and development of your baby's brain.

Synonyms: soft spot

G

Gastroenterologist

Medical | Professional

gas·trō·en·ter·ah·lah·jist  

A physician who treats diseases and disorders of the digestive system including the esophagus, gallbladder, intestines, liver, pancreas, and stomach.

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER)

Diagnostic | Medical

gas·trō·e·sah·fah·jeal rē·flüks  

An involuntary backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus without vomiting – often called "spitting up." Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is especially common in premature infants and usually resolves by itself as the baby's digestive system matures.

When GER begins to affect the baby's quality of life or cause other complications, this condition is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

GastroIntestinal Tract (GI Tract)

Medical

GAS·trō·in·tes·tin·ul  trakt  

The complete digestive passageway for food through the body — beginning at the mouth and ending at the anus. The parts include:

  • Oral cavity
  • Pharynx
  • Esophogus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestines
  • Large intestines
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Anus

Gavage Feeding

Medical | Procedural

guh·VAHJ fee·ding  

Method of feeding a baby who is unable to swallow. A nasogastric (NG) tube is placed in your baby's nose and down the esophagus that allows breastmilk or formula to be slowly dripped into the stomach. Gavage feeding may be used when your baby

  • is too week to suck from the breast or a bottle
  • is breathing too hard or fast to be able to suck and swallow
  • has a problem coordinating his or her suck and swallow
  • has a throat, esophagus, or bowel problem

GER (Gastroesophageal Reflux)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Chat & Forum

An involuntary backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus without vomiting – often called "spitting up." Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is especially common in premature infants and usually resolves by itself as the baby's digestive system matures.

When GER begins to affect the baby's quality of life or cause other complications, this condition is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Chat & Forum

An involuntary backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus without vomiting – often called "spitting up." Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is especially common in premature infants and usually resolves by itself as the baby's digestive system matures.

When GER begins to affect the baby's quality of life or cause other complications, this condition is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Gestation

Developmental | Medical

jes·TA·shun  

The period of time between a baby's conception and delivery — an average of 40 weeks for a full-term birth.

Synonyms: pregnancy

GI Tract

Medical

The complete digestive passageway for food through the body — beginning at the mouth and ending at the anus. The parts include:

  • Oral cavity
  • Pharynx
  • Esophogus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestines
  • Large intestines
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Anus

Gram

Medical

A unit of mass or weight. Thirty grams weighs a little over one ounce. For comparison, each of these items is roughly one gram: a stick of gum, a plain M&M, or a small metal paperclip. One thousand grams equals one kilogram which is about 2.2 lb.

H

HB, HBC, Hb, Hgb (Hemoglobin)

Diagnostic | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

The protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs and delivers it to the rest of body. Hemoglobin levels are determined as part of a complete blood count (CBC) and are often used to diagnose anemia in preemies.

HCT (Hematocrit)

Diagnostic | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A blood test that measures the volume of red blood cells in a sample of blood as a proportion of the total sample. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to every part of your baby's body, too many or too few of these cells are a sign of a medical problem. Generally, a baby with a hematocrit value under 55% would be considered anemic but the normal range fluctuates greatly with age and other factors.

Hematocrit

Diagnostic | Medical

heh·MA·tuh·krit  

A blood test that measures the volume of red blood cells in a sample of blood as a proportion of the total sample. Since red blood cells carry oxygen to every part of your baby's body, too many or too few of these cells are a sign of a medical problem. Generally, a baby with a hematocrit value under 55% would be considered anemic but the normal range fluctuates greatly with age and other factors.

Hemoglobin

Diagnostic | Medical

HEE·mah·glow·bin  

The protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs and delivers it to the rest of body. Hemoglobin levels are determined as part of a complete blood count (CBC) and are often used to diagnose anemia in preemies.

Hernia

Diagnostic | Medical

HER·nee·ah  

A protrusion of an organ or part of an organ or bodily structure through the cavity wall where the organ normally sits. The protruding tissue produces a noticeable lump on the surface of the skin that is clearly not supposed to be there. In preemies, there are two common types of hernias:

  • Umbilical: the protrusion appears around the umbilical site especially when the baby is coughing, screaming, or straining.
  • Inguinal: the protrusion appears in the groin – on the left, right, or in rare cases, on both sides.

HFV (High Frequency Ventilator)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A respirator that works by vibrating the air at a very high rate. This technology allows your preemie with fragile or under-developed lungs to get air/oxygen without the traditional up and down bellows type of action of a normal ventilator.

Synonyms: High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator

High Frequency Ventilation (Oscillator)

Equipment | Medical

A respirator that works by vibrating the air at a very high rate. This technology allows your preemie with fragile or under-developed lungs to get air/oxygen without the traditional up and down bellows type of action of a normal ventilator.

Synonyms: High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator

Hyaline Membrane Disease (Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

HY·ah·lin  mem·brane  DIH·zeeze  

An extremely common respiratory condition in babies born before 37 weeks. RDS occurs when a deficiency of a necessary substance (surfactant) allows a layer of proteins and dead cells to coat the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This layer restricts the essential exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.

Synonyms: Hyaline Membrane Disease, RDS

Hydrocephalus

Diagnostic | Medical

hy·drō·SEH·fah·less  

Once called "water on the brain," hydrocephalus is actually an abnormal accumulation of brain fluid (cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]) in the internal cavities of the brain (ventricles). The pooling of this fluid in the ventricles exerts excessive pressure on the brain and causes the baby's head to expand.

Although hydrocephalus can be associated with a host of diseases, conditions, and even genetics, it is often due to complications of premature birth. Most preemies recover successfully with early diagnosis and treatment.

Hyperbilirubinemia (Jaundice)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

hp·per·bih·lih·rue·bih·nee·mee·yah  

An excess of bilirubin in the blood that causes a yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes. Bilirubin is naturally created by the liver as it breaks down old red blood cells.

There are several causes for jaundice but it is quite common in preemies because they are often born with an under-developed liver. This type of jaundice usually corrects itself with time but it may be treated by placing your baby under bililights for a few days.

Hyperoxia

Diagnostic | Medical

HY·per·OX·ih·yah  

When a baby's oxygen blood level (SpO2) rises above 95%. Both hyperoxia and hypoxia (SpO2 below 90%) can cause serious health problems if not addressed within a short period of time. That is why a small device called a pulse oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot to monitor SpO2. When oxygen levels fall outside the set target range an alarm sounds to alert your baby's NICU nurse.

Synonyms: desaturation, desat

Hypotonia

Diagnostic | Medical

HY·poe·TOE·nee·yah  

A term used to describe a lack of muscle tone and strength. Commonly called "floppy infant syndrome," there are two types of hypotonia that are named based on the source of the condition:

  • Central hypotonia – originating from the central nervous system
  • Peripheral hypotonia – originating from the skeletal muscles, peripheral nerves, and/or the spine.
Determining the underlying cause for the lack of muscle tone and strength can be quite challenging.

Hypoxia (Desaturation)

Diagnostic | Medical

hy·POX·ih·yah  

When a baby's oxygen blood level (SpO2) falls below 90%. This condition (also called desaturation) is common to infants on CPAP because it is fairly easy for the ventilator's positive pressure to be diverted into places other than into the baby's lungs. Frequently, desaturation occurs when the baby cries or when the CPAP mask becomes dislodged by the baby's movement.

Both hypoxia and hyperoxia (SpO2 over 95%) can cause serious health problems if not addressed within a short period of time. That is why a small device called a pulse oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot to monitor (SpO2. When oxygen levels fall outside the set target range an alarm sounds to alert your baby's NICU nurse.

Synonyms: desaturation, desat

I

Ileal Perforation

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

ih·lee·ul  per·formiddot;ray·shun  

A hole in the small intestine that is usually surgically repaired without longterm consequences.

Incubator (Isolette)

Equipment | Medical

ing·kyě·bay·der  

A covered neo-natal crib designed to keep your baby warm. Generally, they are made of clear plastic and have ports in the sides that allow caregivers to touch and care for the baby.

Synonyms: isolette

Inflammation

Diagnostic | Medical

An irritation of tissues that usually causes redness, swelling, and/or pain. It can arise from injury, infection, disease, or environmental factors.

Infusion Pump

Equipment | Medical

A device designed to deliver medicines, nutrients, and/or fluid into the baby's bloodstream in a very precise way over prolonged periods of time.

Interval Delivery

Developmental | Medical

The process of delaying the birth of one or more babies after the preterm delivery of one of a set of twins to improve the remaining baby's ability to survive and thrive. Although rare this procedure has also been used with triplets, quads, and even quints.

Synonyms: asynchronous delivery

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

The abnormally slow growth of a fetus inside the womb that produces a smaller than normal baby at birth.

Intravenous (IV)

Equipment | Medical

in·tra·VEE·nus  

A method of delivering medicines, nutrients, and/or fluids into your baby's bloodstream via a small tube inserted into a vein. There a several sites on the scalp, arm, hand, leg, and foot of a baby where an IV can be inserted.

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)

Diagnostic | Medical

in·tra·vin·TRICK·yu·lar  

A bleeding into the fluid-filled areas (ventricles) of the brain from the rupture of fragile, under-developed blood vessels. The condition occurs most often in babies who are born prematurely. The highest risk is for babies born prior to the 30th week of pregnancy (gestation) because it is during these last 10 weeks that the blood vessels in the brain mature. Usually, an IVH happens in the first few days after birth but then the risk diminishes as the baby ages. The condition is rare after the first month.

The severity of the IVH is described by a four-level grading system. Grades 1 and 2 are the most common and least critical. These usually take care of themselves without further complications. Grades 3 and 4 more the most serious and may cause long-term brain injury.

Intubation (Trachael Intubation)

Equipment | Medical

in·tyu·bay·shun  

The process of inserting a tube into the windpipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth – primarily to maintain an open airway for natural breathing or mechanical ventilation.

Synonyms: trachael intubation

Isolette (incubator)

Equipment | Medical

EYE·so·let  

A covered neo-natal crib designed to keep your baby warm. Generally, they are made of clear plastic and have ports in the sides that allow caregivers to touch and care for the baby.

Synonyms: isolette

Isolette Top (NICU Kimono Shirt)

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A simple garment especially designed for ease of dressing a preemie baby who does not have any leads or tubes attached to his or her arms. The shirt simply folds over the front and attaches with a solitary Velcro® fastener.

ERROR

NICU Kimono Shirt

IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

The abnormally slow growth of a fetus inside the womb that produces a smaller than normal baby at birth.

IV (Intravenous)

Equipment | Medical | Chat & Forum

A method of delivering medicines, nutrients, and/or fluids into your baby's bloodstream via a small tube inserted into a vein. There a several sites on the scalp, arm, hand, leg, and foot of a baby where an IV can be inserted.

IVH (Intraventricular Hemorrhage)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A bleeding into the fluid-filled areas (ventricles) of the brain from the rupture of fragile, under-developed blood vessels. The condition occurs most often in babies who are born prematurely. The highest risk is for babies born prior to the 30th week of pregnancy (gestation) because it is during these last 10 weeks that the blood vessels in the brain mature. Usually, an IVH happens in the first few days after birth but then the risk diminishes as the baby ages. The condition is rare after the first month.

The severity of the IVH is described by a four-level grading system. Grades 1 and 2 are the most common and least critical. These usually take care of themselves without further complications. Grades 3 and 4 more the most serious and may cause long-term brain injury.

J

Jaundice (Hyperbilirubinemia)

Diagnostic | Medical

jahn·des  

An excess of bilirubin in the blood that causes a yellowing of the skin and/or the whites of the eyes. Bilirubin is naturally created by the liver as it breaks down old red blood cells.

There are several causes for jaundice but it is quite common in preemies because they are often born with an under-developed liver. This type of jaundice usually corrects itself with time but it may be treated by placing your baby under bililights for a few days.

K

Kangaroo Care

Developmental | Medical | Procedural

A skin-to-skin nurturing by cuddling a newborn baby on a your bare chest. When the preemie's health status permits, this type of care has been shown to provide many benefits including:

  • Improved regulation of vitals including temperature, breathing, and heart rate
  • Boosted baby's immunity
  • Comfort that helps reduce pain and crying
  • Increased milk production in the mother
  • Improved desire and ability for your baby to breastfeed
  • Improved function and regulation baby's organs
  • Reduced length of hospital stay

Synonyms: skin-to-skin care

L

Lactation Consultant

Medical | Professional

A trained professional who teaches and supports mothers as they learn to use a breast pump, breastfeed, and overcome the problems that tend to impede successful breastfeeding.

Lanugo

Developmental | Medical

le·nyū·ɡō  

A very-fine, down-like, unpigmented hair that usually appears all over the fetus' body — except on the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, and the lips — between the 16th and the 20th week of gestation. The baby usually sheds this hair somewhere after the 28th week of gestation. It is normal to see lanugo on preemie newborns but it falls out shortly after birth.

Late Preterm (Near Term)

Developmental

A baby born during the 34th, 35th, or 36th week of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

LBW (Low Birth Weight)

Developmental

A baby born with a birth weight of 3 lbs.-5oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz. (1,500 to 2,500 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Lead Wires

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

The thin electrical wires that transmit your baby's vital data — such as heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, and temperature — to a monitor. These wires are usually attached to your baby's body with painless sticky patches. Some leads, like those to a pulse oximeter, may be taped or gently clipped to a finger or foot.

Lesion

Diagnostic | Medical

lee·zhun  

Any observable change on the skin, an organ, or structural tissue caused by injury or disease.

Licensed Practical Nurse (Licensed Vocational Nurse)

Medical | Professional

A trained professional healthcare provider who has passed an accredited certification test (NCLEX-PN). These nurses usually work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse to provide basic care, comfort, monitor/record vital health information and may administer some medications.

The primary difference between an LPN and an LVN has to do with the state in which they practice. California and Texas use the LVN designation.

Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Medical | Professional

A trained professional healthcare provider who has passed an accredited certification test (NCLEX-PN). These nurses usually work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse to provide basic care, comfort, monitor/record vital health information and may administer some medications.

The primary difference between an LPN and an LVN has to do with the state in which they practice. California and Texas use the LVN designation.

Ligation

Medical | Procedural

li·gā·shun  

A surgical method used to restrict or stop the flow through a tube, vessel, or duct by tying or clamping. In the NICU ligation is most commonly used as a treatment for patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).

Liquid Ventilation (Partial Liquid Ventilation)

Medical | Procedural

The administration of an oxygen-rich perfluorocarbon liquid into the lungs for preemies who have severe respiratory distress syndrome and who are not responsive to the use of a lung surfactant.

Low Birth Weight (LBW)

Developmental

A baby born with a birth weight of 3 lbs.-5oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz. (1,500 to 2,500 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

LP (Lumbar Puncture)

Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

Placement of an aspiration needle into the lumbar region of the spinal cord to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnostic purposes or in some cases to relieve excessive spinal fluid pressure.

Synonyms: spinal tap

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)

Medical | Professional | Chat & Forum

A trained professional healthcare provider who has passed an accredited certification test (NCLEX-PN). These nurses usually work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse to provide basic care, comfort, monitor/record vital health information and may administer some medications.

The primary difference between an LPN and an LVN has to do with the state in which they practice. California and Texas use the LVN designation.

Lumbar Puncture (LP)

Medical | Procedural

Placement of an aspiration needle into the lumbar region of the spinal cord to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnostic purposes or in some cases to relieve excessive spinal fluid pressure.

Synonyms: spinal tap

LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse)

Medical | Professional | Chat & Forum

A trained professional healthcare provider who has passed an accredited certification test (NCLEX-PN). These nurses usually work under the supervision of a doctor or registered nurse to provide basic care, comfort, monitor/record vital health information and may administer some medications.

The primary difference between an LPN and an LVN has to do with the state in which they practice. California and Texas use the LVN designation.

M

MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

The name of a host of medical difficulties that occur when baby's first stool is sucked into his or her lungs prior to delivery. Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) can cause some threatening health issues, but in most instances, it is a not a serious problem.

Meconium

Diagnostic | Medical

me·kō·nē·yum  

Baby's first bowel movement which contains materials ingested while in the uterus such as amniotic fluid, lanugo, water, mucus, and bile. When the stool is passed prior to birth there is a danger that the baby may aspirate some of the meconium — meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS).

Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS)

Diagnostic | Medical

me·kō·nee·um  as·pah·ray·shun  sin·drōm  

The name of a host of medical difficulties that occur when baby's first stool is sucked into his or her lungs prior to delivery. Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) can cause some threatening health issues, but in most instances, it is a not a serious problem.

Meconium-Stained Amniotic Fluid

Diagnostic | Medical

me·kō·nee·um  stained  am·nee·ah·tick  flu·id  

Visibly greenish or yellowish coloring of the amniotic fluid at birth that indicates the baby has had a meconium stool prior to birth. The appearance of staining alerts the delivering physician to the possibility of meconium aspiration by the baby.

Meningitis

Diagnostic | Medical

men·in·jy·des  

Inflammation of the brain's lining. Although there can be several different causes, generally, neonatal meningitis is caused by a bacterial infection.

Micro Preemie

Developmental

A baby born before the 27th week of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Microccephaly

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

my·krō·SEF·ah·lee  

Stunted brain growth that causes a significantly smaller head circumference than in children of the same gender and age.

Milestones

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

A way of measuring your baby's developmental progress by comparing his or her movement, language, activities, and social skills with babies of similar age. Since your baby was born early, these observations need to be compared to your baby's adjusted age.

Moderately Premature

Developmental

A baby born during the 32nd or 33rd of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Monitor

Equipment | Medical

A device used to track various vital signs of your baby. There are several types of monitors used in the NICU which include:

  • Apnea Monitor
  • Blood Pressure Monitor
  • Cardiopulmonary Monitor

Moro Reflex

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

The automatic and normal response of a baby to a loud noise. The characteristic movement includes stretching out the arms and flexing (scrunching up) the legs.

Myopia

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

my·oh·pee·ah  

A common developmental issue in premature infants that makes limits the baby's ability to see distant objects clearly.

Synonyms: near sightedness

N

Nasal Cannula

Equipment | Medical

nay·zahl  KAN·yah·lah  

A thin, hollow tube designed to deliver a mixture of air and oxygen into your baby's nostrils. One end of the tube is attached to an oxygen source and the other end has two very short prong openings that insert into the nose.

ERROR

A nasal cannula

Nasogastric Intubation

Medical | Procedural

Due to immature brain-muscle-nerve development, many preemies have difficulty sucking, swallowing, and breathing. In order to feed to your preemie, a thin, hollow plastic tube (NG tube) is inserted through the nostril, down the throat, and into the stomach. This procedure is perhaps the most common in the NICU.

Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

nay·zō·gas·trick tube  

A thin plastic tube that can be used to deliver nutrients to or remove fluid and/or air from your baby's stomach and intestines. The tube is inserted through his or her nostril, down into the throat, through the esophagus and into the stomach. It is especially valuable for feeding babies who have issues with swallowing or who are on a ventilator.

NC (Nasal Cannula)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A thin, hollow tube designed to deliver a mixture of air and oxygen into your baby's nostrils. One end of the tube is attached to an oxygen source and the other end has two very short prong openings that insert into the nose.

ERROR

A nasal cannula

Near Term Preemie

Developmental

A baby born during the 34th, 35th, or 36th week of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Synonyms: Late Preterm Preemie

Nebulizer Treatment (Aerosol Therapy)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

neb·you·lye·zer  treat·ment  

The use of a device that converts liquid medicines into a mist for easy delivery into the bronchial tubes and lungs as your baby inhales. Treatment is administered through a hood placed over your baby's head or through a mask fitted over the nose and mouth. The procedure usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Most often these therapies are used to:

  • reduce inflammation in the airway
  • facilitate the breakup of mucus
  • treat spasms in the bronchia (asthma)
  • improve blood flow in the lungs and bronchia
  • prevent or treat pneumonia

NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A bacterial infection that invades the intestines of preemies which can kill intestinal tissues and ultimately create a hole in the intestinal wall. Treatment of NEC can include some or all of the following:

  • Physical and X-ray exams of your baby's abdomen.
  • Removal of fluid and/or air from the stomach and intestines through a nasogastric (NG) tube.
  • A switch from oral or NG/OG-tube feeding to IV infusion of fluids and nutrition.
  • Administration of antibiotics to prevent/treat infection.
  • Surgery to remove diseased or dead sections of the intestine.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

Diagnostic | Medical

nek·roh·TIE·zing  en·ter·oh·coh·LIE·tis  

A bacterial infection that invades the intestines of preemies which can kill intestinal tissues and ultimately create a hole in the intestinal wall. Treatment of NEC can include some or all of the following:

  • Physical and X-ray exams of your baby's abdomen.
  • Removal of fluid and/or air from the stomach and intestines through a nasogastric (NG) tube.
  • A switch from oral or NG/OG-tube feeding to IV infusion of fluids and nutrition.
  • Administration of antibiotics to prevent/treat infection.
  • Surgery to remove diseased or dead sections of the intestine.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Medical

The department in a hospital that cares for newborn infants. Each NICU is rated depending on the level of care that can be offered.

The Four Levels of NICU
Level 1 Provides routine nursery care for
  • healthy babies born at 35 weeks or later who can maintain body temperature and breathe on their own.
  • sick babies born at 35 weeks or later until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
  • premature babies born prior to 35 weeks until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
Level 2 Provides nursery care and some specialized care for
  • babies who have graduated out of a Level 3 or Level 4 NICU who are doing well.
  • babies who require short-term (24 hours or less) breathing help.
  • babies born at between 32 to 35 weeks who weigh more than 3.3 pounds (1,500 grams) and who are well enough that they do not require a higher level of care.
  • babies born before 32 or under 3.3 pounds until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
Level 3 Provides comprehensive care, life support, and monitoring for
  • babies born before 32 weeks or who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,500 grams).
  • critically ill babies of any age.
  • babies who need equipment to help them breathe.
Level 4 Provides the most advanced care for very sick babies who need special surgery or comprehensive care for the most severe of birth defects and disorders.

Neonatal Septicemia (Sepsis)

Diagnostic | Medical

An infection in the baby's blood. Because it is carried in the blood, it can spread rapidly throughout the baby's body. There are two classifications of neonatal septicemia: Early-onset sepsis (EOS) and late-onset sepsis (LOS).

EOS is the most common and is most frequently the result of microorganisms picked up from the mother's birth canal or cervix by the placenta during the birth process. LOS infections are acquired from microorganisms in the hospital environment that are generally passed into the blood through a catheter or PICC line.

Neonatologist

Medical | Professional

NEE·oh·nay·TALL·ah·jist  

A doctor who has specific training and experience with the conditions, diseases, and birth defects that need attention soon after birth.

Neurologist

Medical | Professional

A physician who is specially trained to diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment of birth defects, disorders, and diseases of the nervous system and brain.

NG Intubation (Nasogastric Intubation)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

Due to immature brain-muscle-nerve development, many preemies have difficulty sucking, swallowing, and breathing. In order to feed to your preemie, a thin, hollow plastic tube (NG tube) is inserted through the nostril, down the throat, and into the stomach. This procedure is perhaps the most common in the NICU.

NG Tube (Nasogastric Tube)

Equipment | Medical

A thin plastic tube that can be used to deliver nutrients to or remove fluid and/or air from your baby's stomach and intestines. The tube is inserted through his or her nostril, down into the throat, through the esophagus and into the stomach. It is especially valuable for feeding babies who have issues with swallowing or who are on a ventilator.

NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)

Medical

The department in a hospital that cares for newborn infants. Each NICU is rated depending on the level of care that can be offered.

The Four Levels of NICU
Level 1 Provides routine nursery care for
  • healthy babies born at 35 weeks or later who can maintain body temperature and breathe on their own.
  • sick babies born at 35 weeks or later until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
  • premature babies born prior to 35 weeks until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
Level 2 Provides nursery care and some specialized care for
  • babies who have graduated out of a Level 3 or Level 4 NICU who are doing well.
  • babies who require short-term (24 hours or less) breathing help.
  • babies born at between 32 to 35 weeks who weigh more than 3.3 pounds (1,500 grams) and who are well enough that they do not require a higher level of care.
  • babies born before 32 or under 3.3 pounds until they can be transferred to more advanced care facilities.
Level 3 Provides comprehensive care, life support, and monitoring for
  • babies born before 32 weeks or who weigh less than 3.3 pounds (1,500 grams).
  • critically ill babies of any age.
  • babies who need equipment to help them breathe.
Level 4 Provides the most advanced care for very sick babies who need special surgery or comprehensive care for the most severe of birth defects and disorders.

NICU Kimono Gown

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A simple garment especially designed for ease of dressing a preemie baby who does not have any leads or tubes attached to his or her arms. The gown simply folds over the front and attaches with a solitary Velcro® fastener.

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NICU Kimono Gown

NICU Kimono Shirt (Isolette Top)

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A simple garment especially designed for ease of dressing a preemie baby who does not have any leads or tubes attached to his or her arms. The shirt simply folds over the front and attaches with a solitary Velcro® fastener.

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NICU Kimono Shirt

NICU Wrap Gown

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A garment specially-designed to lay completely flat (like a cloth diaper) and then can be easily wrapped and fastened around the NICU preemie without disturbing leads, tubes, or monitors. Once your baby is placed on the opened wrap, the complete garment can be formed without disturbing his or her head or limbs.

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The NICU Wrap Gown

NICU Wrap Shirt

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A garment specially-designed to lay completely flat (like a cloth diaper) and then can be easily wrapped and fastened around the NICU preemie without disturbing leads, tubes, or monitors. Once your baby is placed on the opened wrap, the complete garment can be formed without disturbing his or her head or limbs.

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The NICU Wrap

Noninvasive

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

A procedure, device, or disease that does not pose additional health risks for your baby beyond itself.

  • Procedures that do not require physical entrance into the body through a natural opening — mouth, nose, ears, or anus — or through the skin. Examples of this would include sonograms/ultrasounds, X-rays, ECGs, and EEGs.
  • Devices that contact but do not enter the body such as a pulse oximeter.
  • Diseases that stay contained — do not spread to or damage other tissues or structures of the body.

NP (Nurse Practitioner)

Medical | Professional

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Medical | Professional

A healthcare professional who is trained to promote and maintain health in collaboration with physicians. An NP is licensed to

  • Diagnose and treat illness
  • Prescribe medicine
  • Order and read lab tests
  • Order and read radiology tests

O

OAE (Otoacoustic Emission Test)

Diagnostic | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A non-invasive test to determine if your preemie has a hearing problem that needs to be addressed. The test is performed by placing a combination earphone-microphone in your baby's ear and a series of sounds and click are played.

When an echo of the sound is picked up by the microphone, your baby is hearing normally. If there is no echo, or the intensity of the echo is reduced, it indicates a hearing problem. The test usually takes about 30 minutes.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

Medical | Professional

A health professional who is trained to identify and treat developmental problems for your baby as well as trying to prevent them by establishing an environment that promotes healthy development.

An OT can help you:

  • Bond with your baby.
  • Understand your baby's language.
  • Know how to comfort your baby.
  • How to feed your baby in a way this is enjoyable and supports development.
  • How to hold, touch, and handle your baby in safe, supportive ways.
  • Safe sleep practices and the best ways to position your baby for healthy development when you take your baby home.
  • Provide information and referrals for therapy resources in your community.

Synonyms: developmental therapist, neonatal therapist

OG Intubation (Orogastric Intubation)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

Due to immature brain-muscle-nerve development, many preemies have difficulty sucking, swallowing, and breathing. In order to feed to your preemie, a thin, hollow plastic tube (OG tube) is inserted through the mouth, down the throat, and into the stomach.

OG Tube (Orogastric Tube)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A thin plastic tube that can be used to deliver nutrients to or remove fluid and/or air from your baby's stomach and intestines. The tube is inserted through his or her mouth, down into the throat, through the esophagus and into the stomach. It is especially valuable for feeding babies who have issues with swallowing or who are on a ventilator.

Ophthalmologist

Medical | Professional

A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the eyes. There are several eye problems that are prevalent and in some cases limited to premature babies. These can include problems with :

  • Tear glands and eyelids.
  • Irregular shape of the eyes that results in blurred vision (anisometropia).
  • Absence of the lens (aphakia).
  • Inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis).
  • Involuntary blinking of the eyelids (blepharospasm).
  • Inflammation of the cornea (keratitits).
  • Overproduction of tears that overflow on to the face (epiphora).

Orogastric Intubation (OG Intubation)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

Due to immature brain-muscle-nerve development, many preemies have difficulty sucking, swallowing, and breathing. In order to feed to your preemie, a thin, hollow plastic tube (OG tube) is inserted through the mouth, down the throat, and into the stomach.

Orogastric Tube

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

or·oh·GAS·trick  tube  

A thin plastic tube that can be used to deliver nutrients to or remove fluid and/or air from your baby's stomach and intestines. The tube is inserted through his or her mouth, down into the throat, through the esophagus and into the stomach. It is especially valuable for feeding babies who have issues with swallowing or who are on a ventilator.

Oscillator (High Frequency Ventilator)

Equipment | Medical

A respirator that works by vibrating the air at a very high rate. This technology allows your preemie with fragile or under-developed lungs to get air/oxygen without the traditional up and down bellows type of action of a normal ventilator.

Synonyms: High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator

OT (Occupational Therapist)

Developmental | Medical | Professional | Chat & Forum

A health professional who is trained to identify and treat developmental problems for your baby as well as trying to prevent them by establishing an environment that promotes healthy development.

An OT can help you:

  • Bond with your baby.
  • Understand your baby's language.
  • Know how to comfort your baby.
  • How to feed your baby in a way this is enjoyable and supports development.
  • How to hold, touch, and handle your baby in safe, supportive ways.
  • Safe sleep practices and the best ways to position your baby for healthy development when you take your baby home.
  • Provide information and referrals for therapy resources in your community.

Synonyms: developmental therapist, neonatal therapist

Otoacoustic Emission Test (OAE)

Diagnostic | Medical | Procedural

ah·toe·ah·KUS·tik  ee·MISH·un  test  

A non-invasive test to determine if your preemie has a hearing problem that needs to be addressed. The test is performed by placing a combination earphone-microphone in your baby's ear and a series of sounds and click are played.

When an echo of the sound is picked up by the microphone, your baby is hearing normally. If there is no echo, or the intensity of the echo is reduced, it indicates a hearing problem. The test usually takes about 30 minutes.

Oximeter (Pulse Oximeter)

Equipment | Medical

ox·IH·meh·der  

A device that safely and painlessly measures oxygen levels (SpO2) in the blood as a percent of saturation. In the NICU the oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot. It continuously projects light into the skin and then measures how much of the projected light is absorbed.

When oxygen levels fall below the low-range target or rise above the high range target, it triggers an audible alarm to summon attention to the NICU nurse.

ERROR

A pulse oximeter attached to a preemie's foot

Synonyms: oximeter

Oxygen Therapy

Medical | Procedural

One of several processes that increase a preemie's blood levels of oxygen. These can include the use of a(n)

  • ventilator (respirator)
  • nasal cannula or mask hooked to a canister of oxygen-rich gases
  • tube, mask, or hood that delivers oxygen-rich gases in the vicinity of your baby's nostrils (blow-by therapy)
There are health risks associated with increased oxygen intake, especially for the extremely premature baby. As a result, oxygen blood levels are monitored very closely and only the smallest amounts of supplemental oxygen needed to reach the bottom of the normal O2 saturation range are usually administered.

P

Parenteral Nutrition (PN)

Medical | Procedural

par·en·TER·al  new·TRIH·shun  

Completely bypassing your baby's normal digestive system by providing essential nutrients intravenously.

Synonyms: parenteral nutrition

Partial Liquid Ventilation (PLV)

Medical | Procedural

The administration of an oxygen-rich perfluorocarbon liquid into the lungs for preemies who have severe respiratory distress syndrome and who are not responsive to the use of a lung surfactant.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Diagnostic | Medical

Prior to birth, an open (patent) duct (ductus arteriosus) in the heart allows blood to bypass the lungs. Until birth, your baby's blood is oxygenated through the placenta. Immediately after birth, this duct closes so that the blood is redirected to the lungs to pick up needed oxygen. When it fails to do so, medicine or surgery may be required.

PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

Prior to birth, an open (patent) duct (ductus arteriosus) in the heart allows blood to bypass the lungs. Until birth, your baby's blood is oxygenated through the placenta. Immediately after birth, this duct closes so that the blood is redirected to the lungs to pick up needed oxygen. When it fails to do so, medicine or surgery may be required.

Pediatrician

Medical | Professional

A physician who specializes in the medical care of children. Although trained to treat newborns, most pediatricians will refer your preemie to a neonatologist until he or she goes home.

Percutaneous Inserted Central Catheter (PICC Line)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

per·kyou·TAIN·nee·us  in·SIR·ted  SEN·tral  KATH·e·der  

A small plastic tube (catheter) inserted into a small blood vessel and then pushed to a large central vein near the heart. A PICC line is used instead of an IV for the regular delivery of fluids, nutrition, and/or medicine because an IV must be replaced every three days. A PICC line can remain in place for three weeks or longer.

Periventricular Leukomalicia (PVL)

Diagnostic | Medical

peh·ree·ven·TRIH·kyou·lar  lu·koh·MAH·lih·see·ah  

The death of white matter around the open spaces in the brain (ventricles) due to a lack of oxygen. PVL is diagnosed with an ultrasound of the brain. Preemies affected with this disorder may have developmental problems including motor disorders, a lack of coordination, and delayed mental development.

Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)

Diagnostic | Medical

High blood pressure in the in the blood vessels that take blood from the heart to the lungs for oxygenation. This condition results from a failure of the baby's circulatory system to change after birth. Prior to birth, the normal gas exchange in the blood takes place in the placenta. After birth, ducts in the heart are supposed to close so that the blood will be transported to the lungs for removal of carbon dioxide and the infusion of oxygen.

Since PPHN reduces the oxygen flow to the body it can create serious health problems. Its symptoms include:

  • Low blood oxygen levels even when oxygen therapy is administered
  • Rapid breathing (bradycardia)
  • Swelling
  • Blue color around the mouth or the lips
  • Cool and/or blue skin, especially in the hands and feet

Phototherapy

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

The use of special lights (bililights) over your baby to help break down an excess bilirubin in his or her blood. Too much bilirubin in the blood causes your baby's skin and the whites of the eyes to turn yellow (called jaundice).

Physical Therapist - Physical Therapy (PT)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical | Professional

A medical professional or treatment that provides assessments of your baby's stress levels and his or her physical and cognitive development. In addition, the physical therapist provides recommendations and treatment that help your baby's motor, sensory, and cognitive development. These services may include:

  • Observation of your baby to determine what stimuli cause stress.
  • Positioning and handling of your baby that enable him or her to sleep, move and relieve stress.
  • Monitoring, assessing, and tracking your baby's development.
  • Improving your baby's motor and sensory skills with movement and positioning therapies

PICC Line

Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A small plastic tube (catheter) inserted into a small blood vessel and then pushed to a large central vein near the heart. A PICC line is used instead of an IV for the regular delivery of fluids, nutrition, and/or medicine because an IV must be replaced every three days. A PICC line can remain in place for three weeks or longer.

PLV (Partial Liquid Ventilation)

Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

The administration of an oxygen-rich perfluorocarbon liquid into the lungs for preemies who have severe respiratory distress syndrome and who are not responsive to the use of a lung surfactant.

PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

PPROM (Preterm Premature Rupture Of the Membranes)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

The rupture of the amniotic sac that surrounds your baby (commonly referred to as when your "water breaks") prior to your 37th week of pregnancy. This event is often the cause of a premature birth.

PRE E (Pre-Eclampsia)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

Literally, pre-eclampsia means before seizures. This condition is a combination of high blood pressure, swelling from extra fluid in the body, and protein in the urine of a pregnant woman. Left untreated, PRE E can result in seizures or convulsions. If unresponsive to bed rest and medication, the only remedy usually requires immediate delivery of the baby, regardless of how premature the baby may be.

Pre-Eclampsia (PRE E)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

Literally, pre-eclampsia means before seizures. This condition is a combination of high blood pressure, swelling from extra fluid in the body, and protein in the urine of a pregnant woman. Left untreated, PRE E can result in seizures or convulsions. If unresponsive to bed rest and medication, the only remedy usually requires immediate delivery of the baby, regardless of how premature the baby may be.

Premature Infant

Developmental

A baby born before the 37th of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

PT (Physical Therapist/Therapy)

Medical | Professional | Chat & Forum

A medical professional or treatment that provides assessments of your baby's stress levels and his or her physical and cognitive development. In addition, the physical therapist provides recommendations and treatment that help your baby's motor, sensory, and cognitive development. These services may include:

  • Observation of your baby to determine what stimuli cause stress.
  • Positioning and handling of your baby that enable him or her to sleep, move and relieve stress.
  • Monitoring, assessing, and tracking your baby's development.
  • Improving your baby's motor and sensory skills with movement and positioning therapies

Pulmonary Surfactant

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

pull·mah·nair·ree  sir·fac·tant  

A chemical (lipoprotein) produced by special cells in the lungs (type II alveolar cells) that facilitates the vital gas exchange — removal of carbon dioxide and the addition of oxygen into the blood. In babies born prior to 37 weeks, the lungs often fail to make this essential compound, which causes respiratory distress syndrome.

When doctors expect a premature birth, a steroid injection of betamethasone may be given to the mother to stimulate the baby's production of surfactant.

Pulse Oximeter

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical

A device that safely and painlessly measures oxygen levels (SpO2) in the blood as a percent of saturation. In the NICU the oximeter is usually clipped around your baby's foot. It continuously projects light into the skin and then measures how much of the projected light is absorbed.

When oxygen levels fall below the low-range target or rise above the high range target, it triggers an audible alarm to summon attention to the NICU nurse.

ERROR

A pulse oximeter attached to a preemie's foot

Synonyms: oximeter

PVL (Periventricular Leukomalicia)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

The death of white matter around the open spaces in the brain (ventricles) due to a lack of oxygen. PVL is diagnosed with an ultrasound of the brain. Preemies affected with this disorder may have developmental problems including motor disorders, a lack of coordination, and delayed mental development.

R

Radiant Warmer

Equipment | Medical

A device used to keep newborn babies warm to limit the amount of metabolic energy the baby expends to keep itself warm. Radiant warmers require much less room than an incubator so are often used in delivery rooms.

How it works: The baby is placed in a tray below a heating source that warms his or her skin in much the same way that exposure to the sun's rays warms your skin. A sensor placed on the baby's skin monitors the temperature to avoid over-heating.

Radiologist

Medical | Professional

A physician who is trained to diagnose and treat diseases through the use of imaging technologies. These technologies include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Ultrasound
  • X-Rays
  • Fluoroscopy

RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

An extremely common respiratory condition in babies born before 37 weeks. RDS occurs when a deficiency of a necessary substance (surfactant) allows a layer of proteins and dead cells to coat the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This layer restricts the essential exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.

Synonyms: Hyaline Membrane Disease, RDS

Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux)

Diagnostic | Medical

An involuntary backing up of stomach contents into the esophagus without vomiting – often called "spitting up." Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is especially common in premature infants and usually resolves by itself as the baby's digestive system matures.

When GER begins to affect the baby's quality of life or cause other complications, this condition is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Respirator (Ventilator)

Equipment | Medical

A machine that regulates and delivers mechanical breaths of air/oxygen directly to your baby's lungs through a tube (see intubation) when he or she is unable to take sufficient breaths on his or her own.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

An extremely common respiratory condition in babies born before 37 weeks. RDS occurs when a deficiency of a necessary substance (surfactant) allows a layer of proteins and dead cells to coat the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This layer restricts the essential exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs.

Synonyms: Hyaline Membrane Disease, RDS

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Diagnostic | Medical

RESS·prah·toh·ree  sin-SISH-uhl  vie·rus  

A common virus that can produce life-threatening bronchitis, pneumonia, and/or respiratory distress syndrome in preemies. The same virus also causes respiratory infections and colds in adults but is generally much less severe.

Respiratory Therapist - Respiratory Therapy (RT)

Medical | Procedural | Professional

A medical professional or therapy that helps your baby breathe better. The RT's works under the direction of your baby's physician to:

  • Evaluate breathing and heart function
  • Administer oxygen therapy
  • Administer breathing treatments and/or medications as prescribed by a physician

Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Diagnostic | Medical

re·tin·AH·path·ee  of  pre·mah·CHUR·ih·tee  

An eye disorder caused by an abnormal development of the blood vessels in the retina. Generally, ROP can affect preemies with a birth weight less than 3 lbs or are born before 31 weeks. This condition is can potentially cause blindness but most babies can be treated and recover without lasting vision issues.

ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

An eye disorder caused by an abnormal development of the blood vessels in the retina. Generally, ROP can affect preemies with a birth weight less than 3 lbs or are born before 31 weeks. This condition is can potentially cause blindness but most babies can be treated and recover without lasting vision issues.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

A common virus that can produce life-threatening bronchitis, pneumonia, and/or respiratory distress syndrome in preemies. The same virus also causes respiratory infections and colds in adults but is generally much less severe.

RT (Respiratory Therapist/Therapy)

Medical | Procedural | Professional | Chat & Forum

A medical professional or therapy that helps your baby breathe better. The RT's works under the direction of your baby's physician to:

  • Evaluate breathing and heart function
  • Administer oxygen therapy
  • Administer breathing treatments and/or medications as prescribed by a physician

S

Sepsis (Neonatal Septicemia)

Diagnostic | Medical

  

An infection in the baby's blood. Because it is carried in the blood, it can spread rapidly throughout the baby's body. There are two classifications of neonatal septicemia: Early-onset sepsis (EOS) and late-onset sepsis (LOS).

EOS is the most common and is most frequently the result of microorganisms picked up from the mother's birth canal or cervix by the placenta during the birth process. LOS infections are acquired from microorganisms in the hospital environment that are generally passed into the blood through a catheter or PICC line.

Sepsis Neonatorum (Sepsis)

Diagnostic | Medical

An infection in the baby's blood. Because it is carried in the blood, it can spread rapidly throughout the baby's body. There are two classifications of neonatal septicemia: Early-onset sepsis (EOS) and late-onset sepsis (LOS).

EOS is the most common and is most frequently the result of microorganisms picked up from the mother's birth canal or cervix by the placenta during the birth process. LOS infections are acquired from microorganisms in the hospital environment that are generally passed into the blood through a catheter or PICC line.

Severe Prematurity

Developmental | Diagnostic

A baby born during the 28th, 29th, 30th, or 31st of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Synonyms: very premature

SGA (Small for Gestational Age)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

Description of a baby who weighs less than about 90% of other infants at that same gestational age. SGA babies may appear normal in every other way and generally do not suffer from ill effects due to their smaller birth weight.

Skin-to-Skin Care (Kangaroo Care)

Developmental | Medical | Procedural

A skin-to-skin nurturing by cuddling a newborn baby on a your bare chest. When the preemie's health status permits, this type of care has been shown to provide many benefits including:

  • Improved regulation of vitals including temperature, breathing, and heart rate
  • Boosted baby's immunity
  • Comfort that helps reduce pain and crying
  • Increased milk production in the mother
  • Improved desire and ability for your baby to breastfeed
  • Improved function and regulation baby's organs
  • Reduced length of hospital stay

Synonyms: skin-to-skin care

Small for Gestational Age (SGA)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

Description of a baby who weighs less than about 90% of other infants at that same gestational age. SGA babies may appear normal in every other way and generally do not suffer from ill effects due to their smaller birth weight.

Sonogram (Ultrasound)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

  

A visual image produced by projecting ultrasonic waves into the baby's body. Sonograms are often used to get a picture of the baby's internal organs and also to evaluate catheters, endotracheal tubes, and PICC lines.

The non-invasive test consists of passing the ultrasonic wand over the baby's skin that has been prepared with a special conductive jelly.

SP02 or S02 (Oxygen Saturation)

Diagnostic | Medical

Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture)

Diagnostic | Medical | Procedural

Placement of an aspiration needle into the lumbar region of the spinal cord to collect cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnostic purposes or in some cases to relieve excessive spinal fluid pressure.

Synonyms: spinal tap

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Diagnostic | Medical

soo·pra·ven·trih·que·lar  tak·ih·KAHR·dee·uh  

An abnormally fast heartbeat that starts above the two large chambers in the top part of the heart. In preemies, the heart rate is often over 180 beats per minute.

Surfactant (Pulmonary Surfactant)

Developmental | Diagnostic | Medical

A chemical (lipoprotein) produced by special cells in the lungs (type II alveolar cells) that facilitates the vital gas exchange — removal of carbon dioxide and the addition of oxygen into the blood. In babies born prior to 37 weeks, the lungs often fail to make this essential compound, which causes respiratory distress syndrome.

When doctors expect a premature birth, a steroid injection of betamethasone may be given to the mother to stimulate the baby's production of surfactant.

SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia)

Diagnostic | Medical | Chat & Forum

An abnormally fast heartbeat that starts above the two large chambers in the top part of the heart. In preemies, the heart rate is often over 180 beats per minute.

T

TCM (Transcutaneous Monitor)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

Medical | Procedural

TOE·tall  par·en·TER·al  new·TRIH·shun  

Completely bypassing your baby's normal digestive system by providing essential nutrients intravenously.

Synonyms: parenteral nutrition

TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition)

Medical | Procedural

Completely bypassing your baby's normal digestive system by providing essential nutrients intravenously.

Synonyms: parenteral nutrition

Trachael Intubation (Intubation)

Equipment | Medical

The process of inserting a tube into the windpipe (trachea) through the nose or mouth – primarily to maintain an open airway for natural breathing or mechanical ventilation.

Synonyms: trachael intubation

U

UAC (Umbilical Arterial Catheter)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A long and soft hollow tube that is placed in one of the two arteries that can be easily found after the umbilical cord is cut. An X-Ray is usually taken after placement to verify the final position of the catheter. Once in the right position, the catheter is held in place with a silk suture and then taped to baby's belly.

A UAC is most often used for:

  • Administration of medications.
  • Administration of fluids.
  • Continuous blood pressure monitoring.
  • Continuous blood gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) monitoring.
  • Taking blood samples from the baby without repeated needle sticks.

Ultrasound (Sonogram)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

A visual image produced by projecting ultrasonic waves into the baby's body. Sonograms are often used to get a picture of the baby's internal organs and also to evaluate catheters, endotracheal tubes, and PICC lines.

The non-invasive test consists of passing the ultrasonic wand over the baby's skin that has been prepared with a special conductive jelly.

Umbilical Arterial Catheter (UAC)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

um·bih·lih·kul  ar·teh·ree·al  kath·eh·der  

A long and soft hollow tube that is placed in one of the two arteries that can be easily found after the umbilical cord is cut. An X-Ray is usually taken after placement to verify the final position of the catheter. Once in the right position, the catheter is held in place with a silk suture and then taped to baby's belly.

A UAC is most often used for:

  • Administration of medications.
  • Administration of fluids.
  • Continuous blood pressure monitoring.
  • Continuous blood gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) monitoring.
  • Taking blood samples from the baby without repeated needle sticks.

Umbilical Venous Catheter (UVC)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural

um·bih·lih·kul  veh·nus  kath·eh·der  

A long and soft hollow tube that is placed in the one vein that can be easily found after the umbilical cord is cut. An X-Ray is usually taken after placement to verify the final position of the catheter. Once in the right position, the catheter is held in place with a silk suture and then taped to baby's belly.

A UVC is most often used for:

  • Administration of strong medications.
  • Feeding when the baby has bowel problems.
  • Performing exchange transfusions.

UVC (Umbilical Venous Catheter)

Diagnostic | Equipment | Medical | Procedural | Chat & Forum

A long and soft hollow tube that is placed in the one vein that can be easily found after the umbilical cord is cut. An X-Ray is usually taken after placement to verify the final position of the catheter. Once in the right position, the catheter is held in place with a silk suture and then taped to baby's belly.

A UVC is most often used for:

  • Administration of strong medications.
  • Feeding when the baby has bowel problems.
  • Performing exchange transfusions.

V

Ventilator (Respirator)

Equipment | Medical | Procedural

ven·tih·lay·tor  

A machine that regulates and delivers mechanical breaths of air/oxygen directly to your baby's lungs through a tube (see intubation) when he or she is unable to take sufficient breaths on his or her own.

Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW)

Developmental

A baby with a birth weight of 2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz. (1,000 to 1,499 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Very Premature

Developmental

A baby born during the 28th, 29th, 30th, or 31st of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Synonyms: severe prematurity

Very, Very Premature

Developmental | Diagnostic

A baby born during the 27th or 28th week of pregnancy (gestation). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

Synonyms: extreme prematurity

VLBW (Very Low Birth Weight)

Developmental

A baby with a birth weight of 2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz. (1,000 to 1,499 grams). See chart below for related terms and distinctions.

Age Terms
When Born (Week of Pregnancy)Descriptive Word(s)
26th week or before Micro Preemie
27th to 28th week Extreme Prematurity /
Very, Very Premature
28th to 31st week Severe Prematurity /
Very Premature
32nd to 33rd week Moderately Premature
34th to 36th week Late Preterm Preemie /
Near Term Preemie
36th week or earlier Premature
Weight Terms
Birth WeightDescriptive Word(s)
799 grams or less (Under 1 lb.-12 oz.) Micro Preemie
800 to 999 grams (1 lb.-12oz. to 2 lb.-3 oz.) Extremely Low Birth Weight
1,000 to 1,499 grams (2 lb.-3 oz. to 3 lbs.-5 oz.) Very Low Birth Weight
1,500 to 2,500 grams (3 lbs.-5 oz. to 5 lbs.-8 oz.) Low Birth Weight

VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect)

Diagnostic | Medical

W

Wrap Shirt (NICU Wrap Shirt)

Clothing | Developmental | Medical

A garment specially-designed to lay completely flat (like a cloth diaper) and then can be easily wrapped and fastened around the NICU preemie without disturbing leads, tubes, or monitors. Once your baby is placed on the opened wrap, the complete garment can be formed without disturbing his or her head or limbs.

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The NICU Wrap

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