Here are only a few of the common terms you will hear in the NICU:
The movement of an arm or leg away from the midline of the body.
A condition in which the red blood cells in the blood — hematocrit, or “crit” — are lower than normal.
Also known as “corrected age.” This is your child’s chronological age minus the number of weeks he or she was born early.
A medication, in intravenous form, used to stimulate an infant’s central nervous system and reduce the incidence of apneic episodes.
Anemia A condition in which the body does not have enough red blood cells.
A numerical summary of a newborn’s condition at birth based on five different scores, measured at 1 minute and 5 minutes.
Cessation of breathing lasting 20 seconds or longer. Also known as an apneic episodes or apneic spells.
Appropriate for Gestational Age
A baby whose birth weight falls within the normal range for his or her gestational age.
The accidental sucking in of food particles or fluids into the lungs.
A steroid medication given to the mother before birth to help the baby’s lungs mature more quickly.
Yellow chemical that is a normal waste product from the breakdown of hemoglobin and other similar body components.
Blood Urea Nitrogen
A blood test that measures how well the kidneys are functioning.
A blood test used to evaluate an infant’s level of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acid.
Bradycardia – “Brady”
An abnormally low heart rate, during which episodes, the infant will stop breathing for at least 15 seconds and the heart rate will start to slow, also referred to as an “A&B spell.”
Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response Test
A hearing test where a tiny earphone is placed in the baby’s ear to deliver sound. This test measures the electrical activity in your child’s brain in response to the sound.
A chronic lung disease—when the lungs do not work properly and the babies have trouble breathing.
A patient advocate, usually from the Social Work Department of the hospital, who helps to coordinate services and home care with the insurance company while your child is in the hospital.
Central Venous Line
The central venous line (CVL), also known as a central venous catheter (CVD), is an intravenous tube used to administer fluids and medications.
Fluid that circulates around the spinal column and brain.
The head nurse in charge of coordinating the nursing staff and care of all babies in the N.I.C.U. There is always one per shift.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – CPAP
Oxygen or room air delivered under pressure though either an endotracheal tube or small tubes (prongs/canulas) that are placed in a child’s nostrils.
Early Intervention Program
The use of therapies (Speech, Occupational, Hearing, etc…) in the first few years of a preemie’s life to help with early detection of concerns with developmental milestones.
Echocardiogram – “Echo”
A picture of the heart through ultrasound.
Puffiness or swelling due to fluid retention in the body tissues.
Electrocardiogram – ECG or EKG
A test that records the electrical activity of the heart possibly showing abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias) or detect heart muscle damage.
Endotracheal Tube – ETT or ET Tube
A tube placed through the mouth or nose into the throat and through the child’s trachea providing a pathway through which air can reach the lungs.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation -ECMO
Oxygenation outside the body, or the process of transferring oxygen into the blood and removing carbon dioxide.
Extremely Low Birth Weight- ELBW
A baby that weighs less than 2 pounds, 3 ounces (1,000 grams) at birth.
Removing the Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube) from the baby’s windpipe.
The soft spot on the top of the head.
Gastroesophageal Reflex – GER
The act of the contents on the stomach coming back up into the esophagus.
Feeding a baby through a nasogastric (NG) tube. (Also called tube feeding.)
The period of development from the time of fertilization of the egg, until birth. Any gestation period less than 37 weeks gestation = premature infant.
Basic unit of weight in the metric system (28 grams = one ounce).
A newborn’s reflexive grab at an object, such as a finger, when it touches his/her hand.
Test to examine the hearing of a newborn infant.
A noise heard between beats of the heart.
Pricking the baby’s heel to obtain small amounts of blood.
A material in red blood cells that carries oxygen and contains iron.
High Frequency Ventilation
A special form of mechanical ventilation, designed to help reduce complications to a premature baby’s lungs.
High Frequency Jet Ventilator
A special ventilator capable of breathing for a baby at rates exceeding those of a normal ventilator (420 BPM, or Breaths Per Minute).
High Frequency Oscillatory Ventilator
A special ventilator capable of breathing for a baby at rates exceeding those of a normal ventilator (for example, 120 – 1,320 BPM, or Breaths Per Minute).
Hyaline Membrane Disease – HMD
Another name for respiratory distress syndrome. Also known as RDS.
Abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid within the ventricles of the brain.
Another name for jaundice.
An acronym for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Is something which happens spontaneously or from an unknown cause.
Individualized Family Service Plan – IFSP
A statement written for an infant or toddler developed by a team of specialists who have worked with the family over a period of time.
A drug used to close a patent ductus arteriosus.
I & O – Input & Output
Input: Refers to the amount of fluids given by oral feedings through an IV. Output: the amount of fluid excreted in the urine or stools.
Puncture or hole in the last part of the small bowel, or ileum.
Also called an Isolette. A premature baby’s bed until they are capable of retaining heat on their own in an open crib.
Abnormal bleeding within the skull.
Intrauterine Growth Restriction – IUGR
A condition in which the fetus doesn’t grow as it should while in the uterus.
Intravenous – IV
A catheter inserted through the skin into the vein in a baby’s hand, arm, foot, leg or scalp through which nutrients, fluids and medications are administered.
Intraventricular Hemorrhage – IVH
Bleeding into the ventricles within the brain.
A tube inserted into the trachea through the nose or mouth which allows air to reach the lungs.
Another name for an incubator.
The accumulation of a natural waste product, bilirubin, which gives the skin a yellow tint.
Skin-on-skin contact between parent and baby.
The fine, downy hair that often covers the entire body of a prematurely born baby..
Wires that extend from sensors attached to the baby’s body to the monitor.
Low Birth Weight – LBW
A baby born weighing between 3 lbs. 5 oz. and 5lbs. 8 oz.
Lumbar Puncture – LP
A test involving the insertion of a hollow needle in between the vertebrae of the lumbar region of the back to collect fluid for testing.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging – MRI
Imaging technique that produces a detailed picture of tissue.
Machine that displays the heart and respiratory rates as well as the blood pressure and blood oxygen levels of the baby.
Defined as either “Gross” (movements using the large muscles in the arms, legs, and torso) or “Fine” (small muscle movements such as grasping and manipulating objects)
Light, flexible tube used to give supplemental oxygen to a child.
Nasogastric Tube – NG Tube
Narrow, flexible tube inserted through the nostril, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. It is used to administer food or to remove air or fluid from the stomach.
A nebulizer humidifies air and/or oxygen as well as delivers medication to a child in vapor form.
Necrotizing Enterocolitis – NEC
The swelling, tenderness and redness of the intestine caused by either an infection or decreased blood supply to the intestine.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – N.I.C.U.
The unit of the hospital that cares for preemies and newborn infants with severe medical complications.
The term used for an infant during the first 30 days of life.
The doctor who directs your baby’s care in the NICU.
Acronyms meaning “Nothing by Mouth”
Parenteral Nutrition – Hyperalimentation
A solution administered intravenously directly reaching the child’s bloodstream, and providing necessary nutrients for growth and development. Also known as TPN.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus – PDA
This is a blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta.
Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
High blood pressure in the lungs, which can often cause breathing problems as well as reduced levels of oxygen in the blood.
“Light” therapy to treat jaundice.
A special IV line used to provide fluids into a vein.
Air from the lungs leaks into the space between the lungs and chest wall.
A baby born three or more weeks before the due date.
Pulmonary Interstitial Emphysema
The formation of “bubbles” around the tiny air sacs (the alveoli) of the lungs.
A machine that monitors the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome – RDS
Respiratory problems due to lung immaturity
Retinopathy of Prematurity – ROP
Scars and abnormal growth of the blood vessels in the retina.
An abnormal sucking in of the chest indicating labored breathing.
The air we normally breathe containing 21% oxygen.
Term used for blood oxygen saturation.
A “short-circuiting” of electrical impulses in the brain.
An infection of the bloodstream occurring when the body’s normal reaction to inflammation or infection goes into overdrive.
Trained professional who helps coordinate social services available within the N.I.C.U.
Another name for an ultrasound.
The act of wrapping a baby in a light blanket.
A heart rate that is faster than normal.
Respiratory rate that is faster than normal.
The oral form of a medication used to stimulate an infant’s central nervous system.
Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
Fast breathing that slowly becomes normal.
Imaging of body parts using sound waves.
Umbilical Arterial Catheter
Catheter placed in a belly button artery that is used to take various readings, take blood samples or give
Umbilical Venous Catheter
Catheter placed in the belly button vein that is to administer fluids and medications.
A machine that assists in breathing usually due to lung immaturity and the inability of a preemie to breathe on their own.
A plastic catheter that is placed (through surgery) into the ventricle of the brain in order to drain spinal fluid.
Very Low Birth Weight
A baby born weighing between 2lb. 3oz. and 3 lbs. 5 oz.
Vital Signs Monitor
A machine that displays heart and breathing rates as well as blood pressure and oxygenation levels on a computer screen.