Neonatology is the care of premature and sick newborn babies. Our patients are fragile and at high risk for devastating infections and diseases, but at the same time they are incredibly resilient. Because the brains and other organs of newborns are still developing rapidly, careful attention to details like nutrition, medication dosing, infection prevention, and parental involvement have lifelong impacts. There is no other area of medicine where the amount of nutrition provided over a one week period impacts IQ over a lifetime!
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the largest ICU in the hospital. At first the NICU can be a frightening place with small vulnerable babies connected to various machines and monitors. As parents become more familiar and comfortable, they become essential partners in the team caring for their little ones. We want to make the NICU a welcoming and healing atmosphere.
Who are we?
The NICU team includes attending physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners , neonatology fellows, pediatric residents, pharmacists, neonatal nurses, dietitians, respiratory therapists, physical occupational and speech therapists, social workers, child life specialists, and the parents. On morning rounds, the team reviews the progress of each baby and determines an individualized plan for that day.
Research in the NICU
As a team we are invested in improving the care we provide for our patients. We participate in large clinical trials involving multiple hospitals like the MINVI trial (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03631940 ) and the VentFirst trial (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02742454). We also conduct smaller pilot studies of promising interventions like the topiramate trial for infants with brain injuries (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01765218) and studies of probiotics and human milk in high risk infants (https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article234205887.html). We are also conducting a study of the intestinal microbiome of premature infants to determine how changes in intestinal bacteria influence growth, development and risk of disease and infection.
Many of our patients stay in the NICU for prolonged time periods. Our social workers, nurses, and child life specialists provide support including help with lodging at the Ronald McDonald and Kiwanis houses, support for siblings of NICU babies, a unique technology called Family Link that allows parents to view their babies from home, and a telemedicine link that connects the neonatologist with the pediatrician and parents shortly after discharge from NICU.