Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Our NICU provides the highest level of advanced care for premature and critically ill infants.
The team in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is dedicated to treating infants who need the highest level of care. Led by a team of more than 25 neonatologists experienced in treating the most challenging cases, our NICU has a Level IV designation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The highest level available, this designation means that our NICU team provides the most advanced life support and monitoring technology for premature and critically ill infants.
What is a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?
Babies born prematurely need monitoring and treatment to ensure their lungs, hearts and other organs work properly. The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a special area of the hospital dedicated to caring for them.
For these infants and those born with birth defects or other complications, the right equipment combined with the right therapy at the right time can make all the difference in helping them get healthy.
Learn more about the different types of specialists who provide care in the NICU.
Conditions We Treat
In the NICU at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, we care for infants with a variety of conditions, including:
- Common and rare heart defects
- Congenital anomalies
- Congenital pulmonary airway malformation
- Esophageal atresia
- Extreme prematurity
- Hirschsprung disease
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and other neurologic conditions
- Low birth weight and extremely low birth weight
- Neonatal abstinence syndrome
- Neonatal infections
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Respiratory failure
- Severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Short bowel syndrome
- Tracheoesophageal fistula
Treatments and Services We Provide
We use advanced therapies and the latest technology to treat infants in the NICU. Our treatments and services include:
- Breast milk analyzer: Allows doctors to test breast milk for protein, fat, lactose and overall caloric content to determine if supplementation is needed for our tiniest patients.
- Breast milk depot: Handles the storage, processing and distribution of mother's own breast milk for each infant. Donor breast milk is also available for our most premature infants.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy: A form of heart-lung bypass used to strengthen baby’s heart and lungs, allowing them to regain strength, often in preparation for surgery.
- Feeding tubes: Help deliver formula or breast milk if an infant is unable to bottle or breast feed.
- Fetal monitors: Used to constantly monitor your baby’s vital signs.
- Nitric oxide: Helps babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension (a type of high blood pressure that affects the lungs) breathe easier by opening blood vessels in the lungs.
- Phototherapy: Used to treat jaundice (a common condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow). Special light therapy blankets may also be used.
- State-of-the-art incubators: To keep the tiniest premature infants safe and warm.
- Total body cooling system: Used to treat babies deprived of blood or oxygen during birth and protect the brain from further injury.
- Pea Pod infant body composition system: Measures the body composition of infants and helps optimize nutrition for premature babies.
Kassiani Thrives With Help From Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital
Kassiani was born with Down syndrome and several life-threatening complications, but the neonatal intensive care unit team and other specialists from Johns Hopkins All Children's were with her and her family every step of the way.
What to Expect
Every morning, your infant’s care team will complete morning rounds at the bedside, discussing your infant’s condition and any changes to the care plan. Our care plan is family-centered, meaning parents and caregivers are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in their infant’s room and participate in discussions and ask questions.
Parents can stay with their baby 24 hours a day. If you are not available, your doctor or nurse practitioner will reach you by phone to update you and answer your questions. Each NICU bed is also equipped with a password-protected livestream system, that parents can use to see their baby when they are not able to be in the NICU, or share with family and friends.
Family meetings may be scheduled outside of “morning rounds” to discuss your infant’s progress and are periodically scheduled with other specialists who may be involved in your infant’s care.
“Hands-on” time is when doctors or nurses are physically touching and assessing your baby. Parents visiting during hands-on time are encouraged to participate in the care of their baby. This includes taking baby’s temperature, changing diapers and helping with feedings. Once your baby is medically stable, we can assist parents in participating in Kangaroo Care, which helps parents bond with their baby and provides other health benefits.
In the NICU, parents and family members are welcome to use our family education and waiting rooms. We also offer several classes and activities to support our families during their baby's stay in the NICU, as well as teaching at the bedside with our nurses to help parents in caring for their baby’s unique needs. We offer parents use of an tablet that is connected to the GetWell Network, which offers helpful information and education for parents.
Before discharge, we will work with you to schedule the necessary follow-up appointments for your child with the appropriate specialists.
Parent Classes in the NICU
CPR: Parents of NICU patients are required to complete an in-house infant CPR class before discharge. The class teaches parents how to recognize a medical emergency and to respond quickly and competently until help arrives.
IPreemie: This class teaches parents about the unique needs of premature infants. Parents learn how to provide developmentally appropriate touch and care to their babies and learn what to expect while in the NICU and after discharge.
NICU Visitor Policy
Please see our Visitor Information page for detailed information on our visitor policies.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Collaborations
Our NICU team also operates in and provides supportive services to regional hospital NICUs within our care network, including HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, HCA Florida Trinity Hospital, HCA Florida St. Petersburg Hospital, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Manatee Memorial, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Sarasota Memorial in Venice. These collaborations help to provide greater access to advanced, specialized care to newborns throughout the region.