Below is a list of medical problems that are common in NICU babies. The list is in alphabetical order.
Anemia is a blood problem. There are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all tissues of the body. It is very common in NICU babies, especially preemies. Severe anemia is treated with blood transfusions. Babies with anemia are also given vitamins and iron to build up their blood.
Apnea is the term used to describe a pause in breathing. It is common in premise whose brains are not fully developed. The muscles that control breathing depend on the brain for instructions on when to take the next breath and how fast to breathe. The brain of a preemie sometimes makes mistakes and does not get the right message to the lungs.
While babies almost always start breathing again on their own, the NICU staff does not take chances. They put babies with apnea on a breathing machine (ventilator), give them medicines, or give some other kind of treatment to help with breathing. Machines that monitor NICU babies let the doctors and nurses know when breathing is not normal.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia (BPD)
This lung problem of some premise requires treatment with oxygen or with a breathing machine, usually for a number of weeks. When the baby's lungs have healed, special equipment is no longer needed.
Bradycardia "Slow Heart Rate"
This conditions is usually accompanied by apnea. Heart monitors in the NICU alert the staff when a baby's heart rate is too slow. Since bradycardia usually goes hand-in -hand with apnea, it is treated in the same way.
Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)
Bleeding in the brain. Bleeding can be very mild or severe. IVH is thought to affect about 4 in every 10 premise who weigh under 3.5 pounds at birth. If the NICU doctors think a baby has IVH, they do tests to find out where the bleeding is. The tests usually do not hurt. Treatment is planned according to how severe the bleeding is and where it is located.
Jaundice, often called "yellow jaundice," is a term for yellowing of the skin due to the build-up of a substance called bilirubin in the blood. Jaundice is treated with special lights (bili-lights) that help the baby's body break down bilirubin. It can then be passed out in the urine or stool. If the jaundice is very bad, the baby may get a type of blood transfusion called an exchange transfusion. In this process, the baby's blood is replaced with healthy blood.
NEC stands for necrotizing enterocolitis. NEC is a severe problem in the intestines. The cause is poorly understood. Babies with NEC are given medicines to get rid of an infection that is often present. Fluids are given intravenously to provide the baby with enough water and food until their intestines are ready to be used.
Patent Ductus Arteriousus (PDA)
Temporary heart problem in some newborns that can lead to heart failure if not treated. Babies with PDA are usually treated first with drugs. If these do not work, surgery is done to close the openings in the heart.
An infection that causes the baby's lung to fill with fluids so that breathing is difficult. An antibiotic is given to stop the infection. The baby may be given oxygen or put on a ventilator to help breathing.
RDS stands for respiratory distress syndrome. It is also called hyaline membrane disease. In this condition, the baby has trouble breathing. RDS is a common problem in premise because their lungs have not developed enough to work on their own. The baby is placed on a breathing machine or under an oxygen hood.
When infection gets into baby's blood, it can affect the baby's whole body, causing a problem called sepsis. Sepsis is treated with antibiotics. If the sepsis is very bad, blood transfusions may be needed. A transfusion of healthy blood is given to the baby at the same time that the baby's original blood is removed.
page last modified on: 5/7/2013