In most cases, pregnancy lasts for 39 or 40 weeks, allowing for full gestational development before birth. But in many instances, that’s not always the case. Each year, around 380,000 premature babies are born in the United States.
Babies born before full gestation often require specialized care to help them grow and develop. This type of care is called neonatology, and it’s not limited to premature babies. Neonatology treatment is also necessary in some cases for babies born at full gestation who have illnesses or issues with development after birth.
While you logically want nothing but smooth sailing for your pregnancy and your child’s birth, take peace of mind in knowing that the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Kentucky Children’s Hospital provides specialized care for the tiniest patients in the Commonwealth.
Anytime a patient is critically ill, intensive care is needed. But that’s especially true for the smallest patients.
Critically ill newborns require specialized care and treatment. The NICU at Kentucky Children’s Hospital is designated as a level 4 NICU, which means we are equipped to care for the most critically ill babies. These babies are cared for by a multidisciplinary team led by specialized doctors called neonatologists.
Neonatologists receive intense education related to illnesses, injuries and birth defects that may affect both premature babies and other newborns. Working together with nurses, social workers and counselors on the NICU team, they help diagnose medical conditions, provide neonatology procedures and offer other neonatology services to treat those conditions.
Our ultimate goal is to alleviate symptoms and promote growth and development to allow babies to leave the hospital and go home with their families.
Many hospitals have NICUs, but it’s the level of NICU that’s of particular importance. We mentioned above that we’re a level 4 NICU. What does that mean for parents?
It means that our team is equipped to provide intensive care for babies born at any stage of gestation and with any type of critical health issue. We are considered a “regional neonatal intensive care unit,” meaning babies from throughout our region are referred to Kentucky Children’s Hospital for this specialized care.
Our NICU is a specially designed space with 68 patient rooms, including two rooms designed for twins. The entire space is set up with the comfort of our patients and their families in mind. While we have access to the latest technologies and advancements needed to provide care for your child, we’ve set up an environment that’s conducive to helping your family bond, too.
Our support doesn’t end after your child ends his or her time in the NICU. As your baby improves and grows, your family can use one of our care-by-parent rooms to help transition into providing care on your own.
Once you’ve left the NICU, your child may also receive care through our NICU Graduate Clinic. When patients are discharged from the NICU, many of their initial health issues have been overcome, but there are often some lingering challenges. This clinic offers care for those children up until age 3.