The doctors and nurses in the NICU or SCN explain and discuss each newborn's condition and treatment with families; however, many parents find it helpful to have a glossary they can reference at any time.
Following is a list of commonly used terms:
Low level of red blood cells.
A prolonged pause in breathing. This is a common problem in premature infants and may require monitoring or medication.
Inhaling a foreign substance into the lungs, such as formula or amniotic fluid.
Pumping air into the baby's lungs using a rubber bag. This is a temporary measure that helps a baby breathe.
A yellow-pigmented waste product that forms when the body naturally eliminates old red blood cells. It may make the skin and eyes look yellow.
Blood test used to monitor the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Procedure in which a small amount of blood is given slowly through a vein.
A slowing of the baby's heart rate.
Care center/radiant warmer:
An open bed with an overhead warmer used to maintain baby's body temperature.
Special x-ray examination.
Chronic lung disease (CLD)
Previously known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), this is a condition in which there are chronic changes in the baby's lungs.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): Maintaining low pressure in the airways to keep the lungs expanded.
Blueness of the skin as a result of decreased oxygen levels.
Special ultrasound that enables the cardiologist to get a picture of the heart.
A test to record the electrical activity of the brain.
Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG): A test to record the electrical activity of the heart.
Endotracheal tube (ET tube): A tube that passes through the baby's mouth or nose into the windpipe (trachea) to allow oxygen into the lungs.
Fontanel: Soft spots in the baby's head where the skull bones have not yet joined.
Gavage feedings (tube feedings): Providing nutrition through a plastic tube passed through the baby's mouth or nose and into the stomach.
Gram: A unit of weight (i.e. 28 grams = one ounce; 454 grams = one pound).
Group B Streptococcus (also called GBS)
A normally occurring bacterium found in a women’s vagina that can increase the risk of preterm delivery, infection of the amniotic fluid, and infection of the uterus after delivery.
Method to screen for hearing or hearing loss.
A blood sample obtained by pricking the baby's heel.
A low level of oxygen in the baby's blood.
Intravenous (IV) therapy
Nutrition or medication given through a vein.
A type of enclosed bed for an infant who is not mature or well enough to maintain her body temperature in an open crib.
A yellow skin color that develops in most premature babies and in some full-term babies.
Skin-to-skin care where the baby is placed on the bare chest of a parent.
Dark-green material found in the baby's intestines. It's the first bowel movement after birth; it can be passed while the baby is still inside the mother.
An extra sound heard in the chest that results from abnormal blood flow patterns. It may be due to structural heart abnormalities, though most have no significance.
Small prongs placed in the baby's nose that deliver oxygen.
Latin abbreviation for "nothing by mouth." If the baby is kept NPO, all feedings will be given intravenously.
Part of the air we breathe. Ordinary room air contains about 21 percent oxygen. Sick or premature infants often need extra oxygen, sometimes even 100 percent pure oxygen.
A clear plastic box that's placed over the baby's head to provide additional oxygen and moisture.
Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line)
Special intravenous (IV) catheter used when IV therapy or antibiotics are administered for a long period of time.
Treatment of jaundice using ultraviolet lights. The baby's eyes must remain covered for protection.
An inflammation of the lungs. In newborns, this is most commonly due to infection or aspiration.
Pulse oximeter (pulse ox)
A machine that measures how well the blood is being oxygenated.
A backward flow of stomach contents, generally referring to a type of vomiting, spitting up or regurgitation common in premature infants.
Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
Lung disease caused by lack of surfactant (lubricant in the lungs); a common cause of breathing difficulty in premature babies.
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
A condition that develops in the eyes of some premature babies where the retina buckles and pulls away from the eyeball.
A brief period of increased electrical activity in the brain. The baby's body may tense up and she may lose consciousness for a few moments.
A severe infection in the blood or tissues.
Small for gestational age (SGA)
A baby who is small at birth because of poor growth in the womb.
Spinal tap/lumbar puncture
A procedure in which a needle is inserted into the lower spine to obtain spinal fluid.
The process of removing secretions from the baby's nose, mouth or lungs by using either a bulb syringe or suction catheter.
A lubricant that lines the small air-filled sacs in the lungs and keeps the lungs from sticking together.
A fast heart rate.
A fast breathing rate.
Shaking or trembling of the face or limbs.
A diagnostic test that uses sound waves to look at the structure of internal organs.
Catheter inserted into the baby's umbilical cord that is used to draw blood or give IV fluids.
A machine that helps an infant breathe by pumping oxygen into a tube that goes into the lungs.
To take away gradually. In the NICU or SCN, it is often used to describe the process of removing an infant from a ventilator or isolette.