NICU Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

A

Antibiotics
Drugs which can either kill bacteria or slow their growth; used in treating bacterial infections.

Apnea
Pauses in breathing lasting more than 15-20 seconds. Some babies also have slowing of the heart rate (bradycardia). You may also see changes in the skin color with apnea. Also called A’s and B’s.

 

B

Bradycardia
Slow heart rate.

 

C

Colostrum
Milk first produced by a mother after birth. It is rich in proteins and antibodies.

Congenital anomalies
Birth defects. 

Containment
Helping baby to calm and feel safe by placing cloth rolls or using your hands to hold baby gently in a flexed position. 

Corrected age
Important concept when evaluating the baby’s development after birth and most importantly after discharge.

Formula for Corrected Age: Actual Age - Months Premature = Corrected Age

For example, a baby was born at 28 weeks gestation (he was 12 weeks, or 3 months premature).
If he is now 6 months old, his corrected age is: (6 months -3 months = 3 months.)

In this case, even though the baby is 6 months old, he should be at or near the development level of a 3-month-old term baby.

Cyanosis
Condition in which the skin, lips and nails are blue from lack of oxygen in the blood.

 

D

Developmental Care
A way of taking care of newborns. It looks at each individual baby’s behavior and needs. This approach tries to keep the baby as free from stress as possible and promotes parent-infant interaction.

 

F

Fontanel
The normal “soft spot” on the baby’s skull. It closes as the baby grows.

 

G

Gavage (OG/NG)
A method of feeding the baby fluids by inserting a small plastic tube, called and orogastric (OG) tube, through the mouth or nose (NG) into the stomach.

Gestational Age
Age of the baby in weeks, determined from the mother’s last menstrual period.

Gram
A basic unit of weight in the metric system. 30 grams = 1 ounce

Grunting
Noises heard when a baby is having difficulty breathing.

 

H

Heelstick
A small prick in the heel to obtain a blood sample.

 

I

i-STAT
A blood test used to assess electrolytes and blood gases.

Incubator (Isolette™)
An enclosed, heated bed.

Intravenous (IV)
Introduction of fluids into a vein.

Intraventricular hemorrhage
Bleeding in the brain: a type of intracranial hemorrhage. The severity ranges from Grade I (least severe) to Grade IV (most severe).

IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction)
Refers to a small baby before being born. Babies with IUGR have grown more slowly and are smaller than they should be.

I & O (Intake and Output)
Total amount of fluid taken in, and then lost as urine or stool.

 

K

Kilo (Kilogram)
A unit of weight in the metric system. One kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds.

 

M

Mec (Meconium)
A baby’s first stools that are greenish or black and sticky.

Murmur
A swishing sound that occurs as blood flows through the heart. Many heart murmurs are not associated with problems.

 

N

Nasal Cannula
A special tubing that is used to give oxygen through the nose, making holding and feeding easier.

NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis)
An inflammation of the intestines. Feedings are stopped and antibiotics are given. Some babies need surgery for treatment.

Nested
Placing thick cloth rolls around baby to provide containment and help keep them in a flexed position.

NPO
Baby will get nothing to eat by mouth.

 

P

Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA)
A normal blood vessel. It connects the two major arteries leaving the heart. These arteries are the aorta and pulmonary artery. Before birth, the mother and placenta take care of the oxygen needs of the baby. The PDA allows most of the blood to bypass the lungs and go to the rest of the body. It should close very soon after the baby is born. Sometimes this blood vessel stays open. This happens most often in preemies.The PDA may need to be closed with medicine or surgery.

PICC (pronounced “pick”) LINE
A special IV line used to provide fluids into a vein. In general, a PICC line is very stable and lasts longer than a typical IV.

Premature Infant
A baby who is born before 37 weeks of gestation.

 

R

RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome)
This is the most common lung disease of premature infants. A baby is more likely to have RDS the earlier he/she is born. RDS is caused by not enough surfactant in the lungs. Surfactant helps keep the air sacs in the lungs open. The air sacs must be open for the baby to get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of the blood.

 

S

Sepsis
Infection in the blood. This requires treatment with antibiotics.

SGA (Small for Gestational Age)
A baby’s weight, length and head circumference is plotted on a growth chart. This allows for comparison to other babies of the same age. If a baby’s weight is less than the 10th percent mark, the baby is considered SGA.

Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture-LP)
Insertion of a small needle through the back into he spinal column to obtain a sample of spinal fluid.

Suction
Removal of secretions from the nose or throat or from an endotracheal tube using a small plastic tube connected to a vacuum outlet.

Surfactant
A substance usually made by the lung cells. It coats the air sacs. This helps keep them open. Preemies or sick, full-term babies may be given surfactant medicine soon after birth. The medicine is given in the breathing tube to treat their breathing problems.

Swaddled
Wrapping baby within a blanket loosely enough to allow movement.

Stool
Bowel movement.

 

T

Transfusion
Giving blood or blood products to a baby through a vein.

 

U

Umbilical Catheter (or Umbilical Line)
A tiny plastic tube inserted into the blood vessel of a baby’s umbilical cord used to give the baby fluids and to withdraw blood samples.

 

V

Vitals Signs
Temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.